This week, Gary starts a new series about the nature and character of God.
The Bible warned that there will be unspeakable darkness and a great falling away in the last days before Christ returns, but most of us probably never thought we would live to see a day of moral decay quite like this.
Are you facing struggles or difficulties in your life? Often we run from such experiences but in fact, they are the very things that will strengthen you.
For the first time in history, less than 50 percent of Americans identify themselves as believers of any kind. That figure is even lower — 30 percent — for those under thirty. Many of these check “NONE” as their religious affiliation. It is estimated that within a decade this generation will be lost completely to secularism and godlessness. And tolerance for Christians will only decrease.
What are we to do with this information? The writer of Hebrews answers, “Recall the former days when, after you were enlightened, you endured a hard struggle with sufferings” (Hebrews 10:32).
After Jesus was crucified, Joseph, a rich man from Arimathea, took our Savior’s body and placed it in his own tomb. A massive stone was then rolled in place to seal the entrance to the tomb — causing all those around the Master to feel profoundly heartbroken and despondent. Scripture says a group of women, including Mary Magdalene, sat opposite the tomb, probably asking, “What will happen now that Jesus is gone? How do we go on?” (see Matthew 27: 57-61).
“Praise to our God; many will see it and fear, and will trust in the Lord” (Psalm 40:3).
Consider what “normal” Christianity looks like today in the typical believer. This person is a bit self-seeking, a little materialistic, somewhat consumerist. Most of his daily choices are about improving his life. That includes his spiritual pursuits; from his church groups to the podcasts he downloads to the seminars he attends.
God promised the prophet Zechariah that in the last days, he would be a protective wall of fire around his people: “‘For I,’ says the Lord, ‘will be a wall of fire all around her’” (Zechariah 2:5). Likewise, Isaiah testifies: “There shall be a tabernacle for shade in the daytime from the heat, for a place of refuge, and for a shelter from storm and rain” (Isaiah 4:6).
We know that Jesus won the victory for us at Calvary when he defeated death, Satan and the power of sin. The question remaining for believers is, “Now what? I know Jesus won my victory on the cross, but where is his victory for the conflict raging in my life right now?”
When Jesus became your Savior, he made you a new creation but although you were changed, the world remained the same. And because of this, there are powers that align themselves against you — the world, the devil and even your own flesh — warring against your spirit.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.