Where do you go in the time of trouble? My son has a magazine full of articles to live in the wilderness in the time of trouble. You remember Y2K? I had a friend who stocked up food and provisions if that emergency happened. What happens to life as we know it during the time of trouble? I have evacuated my family during a hurricane. Several times we have left home and gone north to miss the storm. But what happens when the time of trouble is everywhere? Where do you go then? My family lived through the great depression and WWII. They told of the great poverty of people.
Matt.24:6 “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.”
Where will you go in the time of trouble? I know of only one place. That place is in the arms of Jesus.
Ephesus of the first century was quite a city to behold. It was a free city in the Roman Empire. There was no garrison in it. They paid taxes to Rome and kept the peace. So Rome didn’t have try to control it militarily. What they did was control Ephesus through economics. Ephesus had paved roads, sewer systems, running water, street lights and a booming economy. There were over one hundred thousand people that lived in the port city. It was the center of Christianity in the first century. Paul left Titus as the first bishop. Then eventually the Apostle John became the bishop of Ephesus. This is the city where John was exiled to the Isle of Patmos. There he wrote the book of Revelations. From the book of Ephesians to the book of Revelations was a span of forty years, a generation. From Paul’s writing to the Ephesians to John’s writing of Revelation, the church at Ephesus lost their way. Of which God was not pleased with these people. He definitely was going to destroy the church at Ephesus. This is when the center of Christianity moved to Alexandria, Egypt. It only took forty years to change for the worst. One Generation.
In the 1960’s, the world was in a turmoil. Everything seemed to change. There were wars and rumors of wars. In the Middle East it was no different. Except in 1967, something extraordinary happened. Israel took Jerusalem back. It was in the hands of the Jewish Nation again, after two thousand years. God moved across the world by His Holy Spirit. People began to receive the baptism of the Holy Ghost. Some received it with tongues of fire upon their heads. In the 1970’s revival spend across the world. People were rejoicing, jumping pews, and running around the church. It was a time of joy. In the 1980’s, it was a time of peace. A time to learn about God and practice the gifts of the Holy Spirit. In the 1990’s, it was a time of work. It was the time of Evangelization of the world, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked and generally doing God’s work. God was preparing His people for a time of trouble. In the 2000’s, there has been a disaster or two every year to the present. Even the world knows that there is something going wrong in the world. There is global warming, earthquakes, wars and rumors of war, famine, drought and more TV shows on the end of the world than I can count. What does it all mean? Since Israel took Jerusalem in 1967, there has been a generation of people, 40 years. The same thing happened to Ephesus in the first century. It begins at God’s house first.
Many people go to church because their parents did. Some go because it is socially acceptable. Some go for business reasons. Why do you go to church? The bible says that we are not to forsake the assembling of ourselves together. In the first century, it was a death sentence to attend a church. The Romans hunted down the followers of Jesus and killed them. Then the Romans deemed that Christianity was socially acceptable. By the time the Middle Ages came, the church was living on mountain tops in monasteries. The reformation came in the 1500’s, and war broke against each denomination. Then countries were separated by religion. People moved to the new world for religious freedom. For four hundred years the people of the United States have enjoyed religious freedom. Now it is not socially acceptable to be a Christian. Laws are being made to stop God. It seems that what the bible says is true, there is nothing new under the sun. What you choose to do is up to you. What do you thing Christianity is?
God has always had a people. People that were faithful to God. Some were the most unlikely characters you could think of. Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon, was called the servant of God. Balaam was a prophet of God. Job was a prophet. God chooses whom He will. They serve Him as the do. Some are good and some aren’t, but God chooses. I have had the most socially unacceptable people come up to me and they turned out to angels. We are not equipped to judge what God does. Nor are we equipped to judge God’s people. There is an older woman that is a customer of mine. She is not pretty, very old, and I know that God sent her to me. In my eyes, she is beautiful. I treat her with respect and kindness. I try to treat everyone that way. Because my life is short. I don’t have time to judge people the way God judges. That is his job not mine. Mine job is to love God above all and to love my neighbor as myself.
Do you remember the first time you saw something and it was the most amazing thing that you ever saw? That is called wonder. We say that things are wonderful. Or we say it was amazing. What ever happened to that feeling we used to have? Has the world driven it out of us? Has so many bad things happened to us that we have lost the wonder of the world? We grow up and want to be sophisticated adults. Knowing everything and not being surprised by anything. But what we have lost is what we need in this world. The northern lights of Alaska are amazing. The color of a sparrow is wondrous. The beauty of a Lilly is spectacular. Every sunset is gorgeous and new every night. Jesus was preaching and people were crowding around him. The disciples were keeping the crowd at bay. There came some children to see Jesus. The disciples pushed them away. Jesus saw this and rebuked the disciples. Jesus had the children to come and told his disciples never to do this again. Jesus said for if you do not become as one of this children, you shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. The life of God is a wonder.
When I was eight years old, I gave my heart to God. Since that time I have heard on many occasions God calling my name. Sometimes I would turn around to see who it was behind me calling my name. Sometimes I heard my name being called from a distance. Each time I heard my name, it tugged on my heart. As if my heart was calling out. I found out it was my heart calling out to God. For a long time I didn’t understand why my heart was calling. God had to show me that He put inside of us that yearning to know Him. The call became stronger and stronger until I just couldn’t stand it anymore. Even though I had given my heart when I was a child, I didn’t know what to do about. God sent someone to me. He told me about Jesus and His life. He told me about Jesus for three months before I did anything about it. When I did do something about it, I went to church with his family. There I met the Living God. And I have been walking and talking with Him for thirty five years. If you have that yearning and hear your name being called, all you have to do is turn toward that voice and say, Here I am Lord.
Where will you fall in line when God calls all people to judgement? I don’t like to think about that but it is necessary to prepare for the end of life. When I was young I was going to live forever. I was invincible and could do anything, so I thought. Life is about learning. God says that foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child and discipline will drive it far from us. Have you ever read what God calls an eighty year old man, a child? Slowly I began to understand what the Lord required and my part to play in this. It took almost thirty years before I was willing to do what God said. As a child, I wanted my way and to do what I wanted to do. Otherwise I was going to take my ball and go home. I am thankful for the mercy and longsuffering of God. You can plot and plan all you want, but if God isn’t part and parcel of your life, it is a futile gesture. Take a good look around you and see what is really there. Pray that God will send someone into your life to show you the truth. The truth is that we, as humans, are separated from God by sin and need Him to forgive us and accept us back into the family.
I see people talking about the bible, not understanding one thing. I heard how the bible contradicts itself. How it does not make any sense. The bible by itself is not supposed to make sense to anyone. By itself it is a book of letters from men spanning two thousand years. When Jesus spoke to the people, He did so in parables. When He spoke to the apostles, He explained the Word of God. He wanted them to understand what was really going on. He spoke in parables so the people could not understand without God. Mt 13:15 “For this people’s heart is waxed gross, and their ears are dull of hearing, and their eyes they have closed; lest at any time they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and should understand with their heart, and should be converted, and I should heal them.” Unless God gives you understanding, you have nothing. Unless God gives you, you have nothing. Ro 2:4 “Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?” And that is the point, unless God gives you, you have nothing.
It is funny how when people get used to being with another person that they lose reverence for that person. Respect and honor seem to fade away with familiarity. I have seen it countless times in church after a service. Everybody came to church to be in the presence of God. But when it ended, it was out the door and back to life. There is food in the oven or a football game on TV. When is God supposed to spend time with you? Do you have any time for God outside of church? Have you ever had lightning strike next to you? You felt the power of the lightning. That was not God because He made that. Have you ever felt the power of a hurricane? That was not God because He made that. The bible says that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. It also says the falling into the hands of angry God is a fearful thing. My Father sits on the throne and rules everything. He loves and wants me to come to Him with everything. He wants me to share all my life with Him. He loves to hear all about my day. But I never forget that He is the Lord Almighty, all knowing and all presence. And I love my Father with my whole heart.