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How should we live in perilous times?

We are truly living in perilous times. Current media reports paint a concerning picture as events develop across the globe and it is not looking good.

Wars and rumours of wars: World powers are flexing their military muscles, weapons of mass destruction seem to be on the increase again, autocratic leaders have become more brazen in their oppressive rule and cyberspace has become a cunning battlefield among enemies. Some speak of a looming third world war. All the while, people are being displaced in their millions due to violence.

Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions: Throughout history geological changes have been affecting the world. However, in our densely populated world today the impact is more severe – the cost in human lives is often high.

Famines and extreme weather conditions: An escalation in extreme weather conditions not only threatens human lives, but also food security in certain parts of the world.

Disease: Despite medical research and breakthroughs, the outbreaks of more severe diseases, viral and bacterial infections, are becoming more common.

Morally corrupt society: Society is plagued by an increase in moral decay and lawlessness. Worldwide, there is an escalating intolerance towards Bible-believing Christians. Even within the church Christians differ in opinion as to what they believe is true and there is a tendency to follow worldly standards.

This sounds like the description Jesus gave His disciples when they asked Him what the sign of His coming and of the end of the age will be (Matthew 24:1-12). And also the moral decay and grievous conditions in the last days, according to 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

So, should we anticipate the end of all things to come in our lifetime? No matter the differences in theological opinions of our day, even Jesus Himself said only the Father knows when Jesus will return (Matthew 24:36).

 

Our Father’s Kingdom

The dire state of the world right now is troubling and brings fear and anxiety in the hearts of many. Instead of looking for an escape from these things, we are called by Scripture to complete our Father’s Kingdom mission. The owner of the vineyard must find us faithful with His affairs upon His return. Jesus told us to lay down our lives and follow Him. This will look like foolishness in wordly terms, but it was the missionary Jim Elliot who said: “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep, to gain what he cannot lose.”

In Matthew 24:14 Jesus clearly stated that the gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. The gospel has not reached every nation, so it is not the end yet!

 

How are we to live in these perilous times?

What we focus on will determine our state of mind. So how do we refocus in the midst of the turmoil?

We need to be sure of our position in Christ – securely seated with Him in heavenly places and reconciled with our Father. It is only when we abide in Him that we can bear fruit that will last. And in Him we have our confidence and firm foundation. Both Jesus and the Holy Spirit are interceding for us (Romans 8:27, 34).

Love God and love people: The greatest commandment that God gave us is to love Him and then to love others as ourselves (Matthew 22: 36-40). God is love and if we do not love we are not children of our Father (1 John 4:8). That means dealing with people and situations in the opposite spirit than those who do not know God. We get involved in practical ways to show our love to others.

Mind our thinking: Our thoughts should be on the things that are above (eternal) and not the things of the earth (temporary) (2 Corinthians 4:18). This does not mean that we are not engaged with the reality on earth, but that we look at it from heaven’s perspective.

We have to know our purpose/mission, which is to honour God’s name as holy, to see His kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven and for His will to be done. Jesus gave us the commission to make disciples, baptise and teach them (Matthew 28:19-20). This should be uppermost in our minds. That is what we should intentionally be busy with – in our personal and work life, as well as reaching out to the wider world.

Live holy lives. We have to be holy, because our Father is holy (1 Peter 1: 15-16). If we are called by His name, we represent Him and should reflect His holiness to the watching world. We walk according to the Spirit and not the flesh (Romans 8:5).

Be filled with the Holy Spirit, so that we can be empowered by God for the mission He has called us to (Acts 1:8 and Ephesians 5:18).

Know the Word and know the times that we are living in. The days are evil, so we have to be wise and understand God’s will, so we will not be deceived (Ephesians 5:15-17). We must spend enough time in God’s Word, meditating on it and obeying it, not just hearing (reading) it. 2 Timothy 3: 16-17: “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Watch and pray. We are not to respond to the current developments in the world with fear and anxiety. Paul encourages us in Philippians 4:6-7 to “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” In Mark 13:32-33 Jesus says, “But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is.”

 

What should we pray for?

1. World leaders to be filled with the fear of the Lord, to realise that they are but men (Psalm 9:20) and to receive wisdom from the Lord.
2. Exposing of evil throughout society.
3. Protection and release of the innocent from oppression.
4. The care and protection of the vulnerable – Victims of violence, abuse and displacement, the poor and destitute, the widows and orphans, unborn babies, etc.
5. Climate change – For world leaders to take decisive action regarding caring for the earth. For solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. Pray for victims to be comforted and provided for.
6. Labourers to be sent into the harvest with the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 9:38).
7. Hearts to be open to the gospel, particularly in these trying times.
8. The Body of Christ to:

  • Be filled with and empowered by the Holy Spirit (wisdom, understanding, counsel and might, knowledge and fear of the Lord) (Isaiah 11:2; Acts 1:8; Ephesians 5:18).
  • Be strong in their faith and have endurance (Hebrews 11).
  • Not love their lives more than Christ (Matthew 10:38-39).
  • Bear the fruit of the Spirit (Galations 5:22-23).
  • Display the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:3).
  • Be peacemakers, be pure in heart, be meek, hunger and thirst for righteousness and be merciful. (Matthew 5:3-12).

 

Remember…. Jesus is still Lord

Yes, we are living in the last days and yes, we are living in perilous times. But, Jesus is still Lord and He said, “when you hear of wars and commotions, do not be terrified; for these things must come to pass first, but the end will not come immediately.” (Luke 21:9).

Therefore watch “for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Matthew 24:42-44).

And the Lord Jesus assures us, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20).

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