Saturday, May 23, 2015

The End is Near?

Good morning,

I am away from home today, and am therefore off of the "usual" schedule, whatever that is!
Today's text is 1 Peter 4:7-11 (NIV)

The end of all things is near. Therefore be alert and of sober mind so that you may pray. Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling. 10 Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 11 If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To him be the glory and the power for ever and ever. Amen.

From the time Jesus left earth in physical form until today (and probably even before that) the older generations have believed that "the end is near".  Not the end of their earthly lives, per se, although that too....but, rather, the "end of the world".  Each successive generation has believed that the younger generations are more debauched, and that the world is "going to Hell in a handbasket", as the saying goes.  At least in my lifetime, such has been the case.  (LOL, you see what I mean?!)

So, I'm trying to fight against that in considering this passage.  Surely, Christ's return and the events described in Daniel, Joel and Revelation (to name a few) are much closer than they have ever been.  I think, though, that to focus on exactly when Christ will return is to miss the point.  What Peter is trying to say here is the same thing that Jesus said in the parable of the 10 virgins (Matthew 25:1-13) - - - be watchful and be ready.

With Jesus' return imminent, how are we to live in the meantime?  Are we to be like the girl sitting on her suitcase at the train station, watching for the train to come around the bend?  No, not at all.   That, basically, is what the unwise virgins did in the parable.  Instead, ...

  • We are to remain alert, so that our prayers can be well-focused and targeted to the events that surround us.
  • We are to respond by loving others deeply, using the unique gifts that the Holy Spirit has given to each one.
  • We are to be hospitable whenever we have opportunity, even if we believe our gifts to be small.
  • We are to realize that when we speak, the world believes that we speak for God. So, the message we project is of utmost importance.  The world will judge God by our words and actions.
  • We are to lean on the strength that God provides to us through the Holy Spirit, not seeking to serve the Lord through our own power.  (The latter is a recipe for disaster!)
  • We are to remember that the Lord Jesus Christ is to receive the glory, no matter what.  We are to seek His glory in all things, not our own.  
Some of you out there believe that you are old and finished and "washed up" with nothing left to give.  You have "checked out" of the serving business.  "Let the young 'uns do it!", you grumble. That's your current motto.  For shame!  Billy Graham wrote a book when he was 92, and the theme of it was essentially this:  "as long as I am still here, God is not finished using me yet"!

Yesterday, I had the privilege of serving with some dear church friends in a ministry our church has with one of the local schools.  It was not a fancy thing.  We asked some of our members if they would please bake a homemade treat to share with the school staff.  The sisters responded and we were able to provide a lot of delicious sweets for our Partners in Education, to thank them for their sacrificial work with young people this year.  It was such a joy to do that!  Most of the people who participated in that outreach, which richly blessed others and allowed us to share news about VBS as well as our church's other ministries - - - most of those who made this outreach happen yesterday earned the badge of "senior citizen" LONG ago!

No matter your age, do not be deceived by the Devil's lie - - - that you are "done".  Even if you can barely read this post or must have someone read it for you, as long as you can string two thoughts together you can participate in a mighty one-person prayer ministry.  I'll tell you that if the Devil thinks to end my ministry by physically incapacitating me, as long as I have my brain functioning, I'll be praying.  We tend to greatly underestimate the power of our obedient response to God's prompting.  We have little idea the far-reaching impact of our good deeds - - those deeds done out of a love for our Lord.  The impact is not our concern. That's God's concern.  Our responsibility is to say "yes Lord!" when the Spirit prompts us to use our gifts for His glory.

Precious Lord, today and every day, may we pray fervently, love deeply and serve sacrificially, for the furtherance of Your Kingdom and for Your honor and glory.   It is in Your name I pray, Lord Jesus, amen.

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