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Thursday
Jul202017

How Then Should We Cope?

When we talk about the last days many people including pastors just don’t want to talk about negative forecasts about the future. Yet, it seems to me that we should tell the truth about the future and then prepare to cope with it as it comes to pass. To me this is reasonable and is a pattern we see in often in the scripture.

The Apostle Paul was warned in Acts 20 that he would be bound up and sent to Rome.

"And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, bound in the Spirit, not knowing what shall befall me there; except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me." (Acts 20:22-23 RSV)

Yet in the process of great tribulation and imprisonment, Paul wrote a great portion of what eventually turned out to be the New Testament. He coped with his imprisonment by writing letters of encouragement and instruction to the Church.

From Acts 21 we read that Paul defended his journey to Jerusalem knowing that he would face opposition there and eventually imprisonment. 

And coming to us he took Paul's girdle and bound his own feet and hands, and said, "Thus says the Holy Spirit, 'So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man who owns this girdle and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'" When we heard this, we and the people there begged him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, "What are you doing, weeping
and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be imprisoned but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus." And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased and said, "The will of the Lord be done."

The last days will not be kind days to those of us who practice the truth taught by the scriptures. Recently I heard a preacher say the following:

One of the distinctive characteristics of the last days is: “people not knowing the difference between truth and error.” 
This is the agenda of the evil one, to disrupt all the trust we have in God and His Word. Satan knows he cannot destroy the gospel, but he can create speed bumps to slow us down and disrupt our work for God. The Apostle Paul was warned about his fate as he continued to do his ministry and go into Jerusalem for one last time. Yet he knew that God would not let him suffer without cause and his suffering of imprisonment was ultimately for the good of the Church and the work of the kingdom. Any time we are piercing the darkness with the gospel we will feel resistance. That resistance is like the imprisonment that Paul used to write and encourage the churches in his day. What part of the resistance can be used to learn about the tactics of the enemy and learn how to take the appropriate measures to counteract the pressures of our enemy? Paul used his time writing and encouraging, instructing those to follow and trust Jesus without question.  He wrote to remind the churches that God is in control, and there will come a day when His Kingdom will come and our faith in Jesus will bring us into that Kingdom.

Our task is the same, how can we encourage people to put aside their differences and focus on how to resist the evil and ignorance of our day by doing good? The gospel is not only words of hope it is also actions of hope. People who do kind things to bring a message of hope to others are influential ambassadors of His kingdom. As the days grow increasingly spiritually dark, we need to dispel the ignorance of darkness with words of hope and truth. The tendency for many of us is to assimilate into complacency and allow the ignorance of our day to go unchallenged. Paul was imprisoned, but he did not allow the ignorance of his imprisonment to go unchallenged, he appealed to Rome. In the process of his appeal he coped by using his time wisely and, precisely, to further the Kingdom of God.  The Bible tells us that the future belongs to God and all the kingdoms of this world will one day bow a knee and make confession that Jesus is Lord. Until that day our work is to be truthful and honest about the cost of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Pastors who deny the truth by picking and choosing what to preach and what not to preach are only hurting the body by not preparing the body for the future. The criteria we need to adopt about truth is: “If the Bible teaches it, we will preach it.”

It is my belief that if you know the truth it becomes easier to cope with all the uncertainty, all the disappointment, and all the harassment this life throws at you. Don’t hide your head in the sand of denying the truth, stick your head in the truth and you will cope.

Keeping it honest and truthful…K 

 

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