Prepare for the End - Our Journey Online - May 16, 2016

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Prepare for the End

And as [Jesus] sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter and James and John and Andrew asked him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be, and what will be the sign when all these things are about to be accomplished?” And Jesus [said] to them . . . “When you hear of wars and rumors of wars, do not be alarmed . . . For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be earthquakes in various places; there will be famines. These are but the beginning of the birth pains”(Mark 13:3–5, 7–8, esv).

Did you catch that?  Jesus Christ calls signs of the end of the age, “the beginning of the birth pains.”

Have you ever had a baby? I haven’t, but I’ve been in the room. What I remember is that the experience of giving birth involves great pain, growing more and more intense until the moment of birth. The pain escalates in severity and frequency.

In most cases, mothers aren’t caught off guard by the pains of childbirth. In the same way, we should not be caught off guard by the pain signaling the end. That’s how Jesus describes the experience for His followers coming to the close of this age. The “beginning of sorrows” Jesus described in Matthew 24:8 may well be underway already. I wonder—will Christ rapture the church this year? More importantly, are we prepared?

We are seeing the signs right now. And it wouldn’t take long for one person to capture the heart of the political world. Once the media gets behind that individual, how long will it take for one world leader to rise?

As the severity and frequency of the birth pains increase, we should be asking, What does it mean for those of us who follow Christ? How should we prepare?

First, prepare to lose respect.
I believe that’s happening right now. There is simply no respect for people with faith. If you say to someone, “I love Jesus Christ,” see what happens. We are becoming a laughing stock, mocked and ridiculed for our faith.

You can be fervent about Buddhism. You can be fervent about Islam, and people will defend you. But if you are fervent about your faith in Jesus, you’ve got a world of hurt coming upon you.

The only intolerance that is tolerated is hatred of those who wholeheartedly believe in Jesus Christ.

Second, prepare to lose your rights.
The only discrimination that will be allowed is discrimination against people who don’t think everything is okay. Read Romans 1. Everything’s good as long as you’re good with everything—but if you want to raise a concern about sin or evil, you will be hated. You will have no right to say something is not right.

Third, prepare for unparalleled persecution.
Matthew 24:9 says, “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake.”  More than ever before, in frequency and in severity, God’s people—the followers of Jesus Christ and the Jewish people—are going to become increasingly unpopular. Not tolerated. Not put up with. The antagonism toward people who are unapologetic followers of Jesus Christ in families, schools, and the marketplace is increasing. Prepare yourself for more and more overt hostility toward God’s people.

Listen: This is not some hypothetical idea about the future. It’s happening right now. I believe some people reading this will suffer physically for their faith in Jesus Christ. Some will lose property. Some will lose resources. Some will lose their lives.

In the midst of these “birth pains,” we can hold on to this promise. Jesus came. And He’s coming again soon. Jesus ends His teaching in Mark 13:13 encouraging us with this: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”

Are you prepared to endure? Let’s not be caught off guard.

Journal

  • Where in our culture do you see signs of these “birth pains” increasing in severity and frequency?
  • How can you, as a follower of Christ, prepare to face persecution?

Pray
Heavenly Father, give me the courage to face the pain that is ahead. I know You are with me and I trust You to guide me. Your grace is sufficient to carry me through anything You allow. Please help me to endure by faith. Give me the grace to hold fast to You in the face of persecution. Give me the faith to humbly face disrespect. Give me love for those who remove my rights. I can only do this in Jesus’ power, and it’s in His mighty name I ask these things. Amen.

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