Encouragement in the News
Pregnant Pastor’s Wife Shot and Killed (11/10/15)
Planned Parenthood Shooting – 3 dead, 9 wounded (11/27/15)
San Bernardino Shooting – 14 dead, 17 wounded (12/2/15)
Savannah Shooting – 1 dead, 3 wounded (12/2/15)
Pregnant Houston Woman Attacked – miscarries twins (12/4/15)
Chennai, India Flooding – 9 dead (Nov – Dec 2015)
Rape, Human Trafficking, Slavery, Murder, Prostitution, Abortion, Genocide, War, ISIS…
Death, Disease, Destruction…
I remember when a coworker came into my office in March 2013 to talk about a mass shooting that was prevented at the University of Central Florida. A student was being kicked out of school and had planned to harm as many people as possible. He had guns, ammunition and 4 bombs. The police responded quickly after the student’s roommate called 911 and the only casualty was the student himself. This could have been a much worse situation.
Coworker: I can’t believe how crazy this world is getting.
(I could see her point – we’ve had more and more mass shootings, natural disasters and worldwide violence in the recent past.)
Me: I actually find comfort in what’s happening in the world.
Coworker: What!? How could you?
Me: The Bible tells us that this is going to happen. Jesus told us that there will be war, there will be disease, there will be killing – and that it will increase like birth pangs as we get closer to the end of the world, closer to His second coming.
Coworker: You’re right – it does say that.
Me: So, as bad as it is in this world, and as horrible as things are in the news, I find comfort in knowing that we aren’t far away from Jesus coming back. It makes me pray harder and try to talk more about Him.
Coworker: I can understand that.
My comfort came from the prophetic nature of my God and knowing that as His prophecy is fulfilled, that means that we are that much closer to Jesus’ return. I’m not sure if my coworker really understood it or not. I think she understood it logically, but she struggled because I don’t think she fully trusted God.
Just before Jesus was to be crucified, His disciples asked Him what will be the sign of His coming at the end of the age (Matthew 24).
4 And Jesus answered and said to them, “See to it that no one misleads you.
5 “For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will mislead many.
6 “You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end.
7 “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes.
8 “But all these things are merely the beginning of birth pangs.
9 “Then they will deliver you to tribulation, and will kill you, and you will be hated by all nations because of My name.
10 “At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another.
11 “Many false prophets will arise and will mislead many.
12 “Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.
13 “But the one who endures to the end, he will be saved.
14 “This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come.
You tell me… Does this sound familiar? Can you see how Jesus’ words are coming true today?
v.9 You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Other than in church, where is it politically correct and unoffensive to talk about Jesus and/or Christianity? Are you afraid to mention His name for fear of ridicule, rejection or retribution? Does His name stir up anger, hatred or any other negative feeling? Do you feel nervous before telling people you are a Christian, or do you avoid it altogether?
Many Christians who profess to be followers of Christ will no longer publicly speak of Him unless they know they are speaking to other followers. The further we distance ourselves from Jesus, the more we fall away and are truly separated from Him. Does that sound like v.10?
v.11 There are so many people who are trying to lead Christ followers and non-Christ followers as far away from Jesus as they can. They put “you” as the focus of everything, rather that promoting God as the primary focus of our lives. They tell you that if you are a good person, that’s good enough for God. But is that really true? Jesus tells us that He is the Way, the Truth and the Life and the only way to the Father is through Him (John 14:6). So how is it possible to get to God by focusing on ourselves?
Focusing on ourselves leads straight into lawlessness (v.12). Most people don’t care what they do and don’t think that God cares what they do as long as they can justify it. What!? Then why did He give us the Law? This isn’t talking about the 600+ laws that are outlined in the Old Testament – this is talking about the Ten Commandments. Love God, honor your parents, don’t kill, steal, covet, lie, etc. As Jesus clarifies in Matthew 22:37-40, each one of these commandments hinge on loving God first and then your neighbor as yourself.
This gospel shall be preached (v.14). Have you ever heard the gospel of Jesus? He is God in the flesh who came to this earth to live as a man – although he wasn’t like any man who had ever walked the earth. He came to do the Father’s will. He lived a sinless life, proclaiming the kingdom of God, calling on sinners to repent and turn back to God. He was convicted as an innocent man and then crucified. He gave up His life as a sacrifice for our own – the sacrifice to end all sacrifices. He died for our sins. He rose again after three days and lives today. He died so that I could live wholly and forgiven. He died so that you could live – live wholly and forgiven.
So when you hear about what is happening in this world and read the doom and gloom in the news, take heart, my friends! Jesus told us these things would happen. It doesn’t make them easy to live through, but know that His second coming is near – and that is something to be hopeful for.
All week I’ve been reading articles that are critical of the Christian society for one reason or another. You probably saw the headline in the New York Daily News this week – God Isn’t Fixing This. The article was referencing the many people who offer thoughts and prayers in times like these. While prayers are powerful, God created us to be “doers”. So stand up and “do” something. Tell someone about Christ. Tell someone why you have the hope that you do. Go and be the change that you want to see in the world. One of my favorite songs is Matthew West’s “Do Something”.
Jesus told his disciples, “These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
As Christians, we need to come together and proclaim the truth of Jesus. We need to live our lives in a manner that shows others that we are different. That we truly follow in Christ’s footsteps and live in obedience to Him. We need to speak out and speak up in this world that has tried desperately to silence us. Who do you know that needs to hear the truth of Jesus?
What I’ve Learned:
- Evil is increasing in the world. Satan is here to steal, kill and destroy. I see it daily now as I read the news.
- Jesus foretold of these things to come. He told us they will increase like birth pangs as we near the end of the age. That means increasing in frequency and intensity.
- Jesus has overcome this world, so that should give me comfort and confidence.
- Even though my physical safety is not guaranteed in this life, as the violence becomes more random and frequent, my spiritual safety is. I have accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and have committed my life to obeying Him.
- How do you respond when you see these stories in the news?
- If you knew what the outcome would be to increase of violence and evil in the world, how would that change your perspective on these events?
- How can you encourage others as they respond in fear, anxiety or anger to the events of our world?
- Do you need the peace that Jesus can offer in times like this? Is it time to invite Him in?
If you would like to discuss further or if you need prayer, please contact me privately. I would love to spend some time with you.