How to Face…Terrible Times

As I was meeting today, with some executives from the Fort Collins Chamber of Commerce, I was reviewing some of my activities and organizations that I have connected with in the past three years. I began to realize that in spite of my health challenges there has been more that I have done than I realized. It is good to take time and to look back at the past. But as they Mayor of Fort Collins commented in a conversation to me this week, “it is important to remember that the windshield is larger than the rear-view mirror.”

BIBLE VERSE FOR TODAY… “But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days.”  2 Timothy 3:1 NIV

It is interesting to notice the various adjectives that are used in different translations to describe the character of the “last days.” We see “perilous,” “difficult,” and “violent,” Just to name a few. Paul makes sure that Timothy knows that the condition of the world as the “last days” draw near will be evident in the church as well.

He warns, “…evildoers and impostors will go from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.” (2 Timothy 3:13 NIV) The character of the last days can be summarized as, “self-centered” and “self-serving.” Take note of the description,

“People will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boastful, proud, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, without love, unforgiving, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not lovers of the good, treacherous, rash, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God— having a form of godliness but denying its power.” (2 Timothy 3:2-5 NIV)

This self-centered, self-serving and antagonistic approach to life, will be accompanied by an air of spirituality. There will be those who, make a “god” to suit their own imaginations and purposes. They will turn from the power of the gospel, as the power to change a life. The true power of the gospel, is the power to redirect a life into that which is pleasing to God and demonstrates love and concern for others. Denying God’s power, is to feel smug in continuing in self-centered, self-serving, antagonistic behaviors and believing that it doesn’t matter to God.

This is the great reversal, where God becomes the servant and the endorser of human behaviors, instead of God directing an individuals life into a new direction and providing a new purpose. That is a form of idolatry.

The true God becomes the enemy of humanity. Revelation reveals a hard heart of mankind that refuses to acknowledge God and submit to His ways. “They were seared by the intense heat and they cursed the name of God, who had control over these plagues, but they refused to repent and glorify him….men began to gnaw their tongues in anguish and cursed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, but they refused to repent of what they had done…” (Revelation 16:9,11 NIV)

Paul’s description of the character of the “last days” and of its ramifications comes to an end as he give this charge to Timothy. But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (2 Timothy 3:14,15 NIV)

Four words, break the downward spiral of the world and provide a sense of direction and hope, “But-as-for-you.” In the last days and the days leading up to the last days, those who have a solid faith in Christ, are to “keep on keeping on.” They are to hold to the truth of God that never changes and the power of the gospel that changes lives.

I am reminded of the words of counsel our friend and physical therapist at McKee Medical Center gave to Debbie at a critical time in my illness, “stay the course, keep your eyes on the cross.” How do we live in a world that is facing “terrible” times? Stay the course, keep your eyes on the cross.

Prayer for today… Lord, thank You for Your truth that keeps us anchored in turbulent times. When terrible times come, we don’t need to be shaken or in dismay. Help us to remember to stay true to Your Word and the power of the cross.