Troublesome Days

II Timothy 3:1 states “in the last days perilous times shall come.” The word “perilous” means difficult to deal with. Interestingly, the next verse shows that the troubling days come because of narcissism. The Bible plainly states that “men shall be lovers of their own selves” and then begins to list issues that happen because of this self-love.

From my perspective, the things that are listed in this passage are things that are now at play in our world and are things that trouble us.

The current amoral culture in America causes me to be agitated and troubled. The fact that so many people have moved to a post-modern mindset ultimately affects how they live. Post-modernism has taught people to think that there is no such thing as absolute truth, and there are no fixed points of morality. Ultimately, it teaches that there is no God! It reminds me of what is stated in Romans 1:28—that men don’t “like to retain God in their knowledge.”

I am troubled by the seeming lawlessness of many people in our society. I am troubled by the way that our police and other law enforcement individuals have been demonized. Although there are some bad police officers, the vast majority of them are exceptional citizens who get up and go to work every day and put their lives on the line to protect us. They are good, brave men and women that have a job to do. The last thing they want to deal with is a mob mentality where people get stirred up, protest, plunder and pillage, stealing and destroying property. A lot of the issues that people are upset about when it comes to the police could have been completely averted had people just done what they were told to do when confronted by the police.

We can be troubled about the economy and how we might be affected going forward. We can be troubled by the lack of leadership among our governmental leaders.

We can be troubled about the state of affairs in our world. The instability in the Middle East greatly troubles many people in this world. It would seem that our world is on the brink of World War Three. The radical element of Islam is bent on jihad and the establishment of a caliphate. Like our Jewish friends in Israel, we are greatly concerned about what could happen should Iran develop nuclear weapons.

How do we respond to these troubling days? Let me share a few thoughts.

  1. We must understand that this trouble means that we are drawing close to the end of this age. For that reason, our hearts should have hope. Jesus promised that He would return, and when we read the passages in I Corinthians 15 and I Thessalonians 4, we realize we will soon be changed and removed from this planet.
  2. We should understand that God hasn’t given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love and a sound mind (II Timothy 1:7). Therefore, our hope isn’t in the things of man or even the issues at play in our world but in Christ alone. We are reminded in Hebrews 12 that our eyes are to remain fixed on our Saviour.
  3. We are called to be witnesses for Christ, regardless of what is going on in our world. We are like the stewards in the Lord’s parable that were entrusted with his talents. We are to take the truths of the gospel and share them with folks along life’s way. Winning people to Christ and helping them develop in the faith is the greatest and most important thing we can do in these troubling times.
  4. We need to pray for our government. You and I may not agree with the direction of those that lead us, but we are commanded to pray for them (I Timothy 2), and we are to obey them (Romans 13) until they command us to do something that violates God’s truths. I think we all know that our President and Congressional leaders, as well as the justices on the Supreme Court, need to be supported through our prayers.
  5. The final thing we can do is obey Philippians 4:4-9. We are to think on the right things. We are to be “careful,” but we are to pray and think on the right things; then as verse nine states, the God of peace will be with us.

Don’t Quit

On January 4, I preached my first messages from the pulpit of Cleveland Baptist Church for 2015. In my study leading up to that first Sunday, I was directed by the Holy Spirit to Galatians 6:7-9. In that passage, Paul talks about the law of sowing and reaping and gives us both the negative side of that law (“he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption”) and the positive side (“he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting”).

Interestingly, the word “corruption” in this text speaks of rotting garbage. When we allow our flesh to dictate our life and allow sinful aspects to overrun us—mark it down—it is like stinking up a life, and nothing stinks worse than rotting garbage. The garbage dump is definitely not a place where I want to live. However, too many people have sown to the flesh and find that they are living on the garbage dump. What sounded so attractive and seemed so inviting has turned ugly and has brought a terrible stench.

The last several years I have read the book of Proverbs through once every month. In that book, sin is dressed up like a provocative woman. She is called a strange woman; she is decadent and appeals to the eye. She is inviting, offering herself and a good time to those that will respond to her. However, as Proverbs 5:4-5 points out, “But her end is bitter as wormwood, sharp as a two edged sword. Her feet go down to death; her steps take hold on hell.”

The other admonition that Paul gives us is that sowing to the Spirit is profitable—a person that sows to the Spirit will reap life everlasting. The problem is that our flesh doesn’t like the Spirit; it resists and rebels against spiritual things. That is why Paul makes the statement in I Corinthians 9:27, “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.”

Galatians 6:9 is basically an admonition not to quit in the matter of sowing the right kind of seed. Because there is a period of time between sowing and reaping and there isn’t instant gratification in the realm of the Spirit, it is easy to get discouraged and weary in well doing. Yet we are told to keep on because we will reap if we faint not.

Let me give you a few reasons not to quit sowing the right kind of seed!

  1. I think I shouldn’t quit because of where I want to be in my life. I need to look at the end of the road! Where does the path I want to travel take me? Things that are inviting up front can end up bringing corruption to a life. Things that are less attractive to the flesh but are promoted by the Spirit, bring joy and gladness when we obey. The end of that path is life eternal. The Bible never speaks of the flesh in good terms; however, the Spirit is always spoken of in positive ways.
  2. I ought not to quit because of the promise of reaping what I sow! There is the promise of reaping the benefit of what you sow. The law of sowing and reaping is an inevitable law; it cannot be altered—whatever you plant you will eventually reap.
  3. I shouldn’t quit because of those that are coming behind me. I have too many eyes looking at me. I need to live in such a way that my testimony is clear and I don’t cause others to stumble because of what they see or don’t see.
  4. I shouldn’t quit because Jesus didn’t quit! He finished His course and despised the shame, but He purchased salvation for us. He now says to run your race and don’t quit!

It is obvious that God is faithful, and He will reward those who are faithful too! I want to hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.” As you go through 2015, keep in mind that you are sowing every day. Make sure you are sowing the right things in your life!