Monday, April 4, 2011

April 5, 2011

"The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths or his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, or you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever."  Psalm 23

Can you name five animals more helpless than a sheep?

Sheep have multiple predators and few means of protection. Wolves love them! Cougars find them tasty. Lions call them lunch. When face to face with a ferocious animal all a sheep can do is say his prayers. Sheep cannot run. They cannot swim. They cannot fight. They can only get mauled and munched on.

If anyone has a reason to fear it is a sheep. They have a long list of things to be afraid of.

Guess who the Bible often refers to as sheep? You! (And me) You don't have to think for very long to figure out why.

The future of a sheep is only as certain as his shepherd. So is yours!

When a sheep is under the care of a good shepherd, the future is his friend! The Psalmist reminds you and me in poetic verse that we are under the care of a Good Shepherd! A really good One!

Take time to read the Psalm! If you are prone to fear, read it often! Ready it daily! Read it out loud! Pray it! Meditate on it! Memorize it!

As the world gets more dangerous and turmoil rages, you need to know that when the Lord is your Shepherd the future is your friend!

April 4, 2011

"As Jesus was sitting on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to him privately. “Tell us,” they said, “when will this happen, and what will be the sign of your coming and of the end of the age?” Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. or many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. There will be famines and earthquakes in various places. All these are the beginning of birth pains. “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come."  Matthew 24:3-14

For over 2,000 years people have been talking about the end times. The first generation of believers thought they were in the last days and so they found no problem in selling all they had to support the spread of the Gospel.

During that period there has been endless speculation regarding the anti-Christ and who that might be.

Back in my high school, college and early adult years, another wave of second-coming speculation arose. Those were years of great unrest and world turmoil. The struggle for civil rights was raging with riots and violence throughout the nation. Viet Nam was heating up and that sparked protests across the country, especially on college campuses. The Kent State riot errupted in gunfire when students threatened National Guard troops resulting in the deaths of some students. Over a five year period America was stunned by the assassinations of President John F. Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King, and Senator Bobby Kennedy. Those years saw the rise of violent anti-government, anti-establishment groups such as Students for a Democratic Society, the Weathermen, the Black Panthers, and the Symbionese Liberation Army. These groups raised tensions and perpetrated violence in out land.

Also, during this unstable period, prayer was removed from the schools, drug use what rampant, immorality was promoted and abortion became the law of the land.

At the same time on the world scene, tensions peaked in the Middle-East with two wars involving Israel. The Six Day War in 1967 in which Israel swiftly and decisively regained several areas of land that are still in dispute today. Another conflict broke out in 1973 when Israel attacked Lebanon in retaliation for the attack on Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics Those Arab-Israeli conflicts caused instability in the Middle-East oil production causing an oil shortage in the United States and sparking an economic recession.

The "Cold War" between the United States and Russia was heating up, adding to the world tensions.

With all of those events unfolding at a rapid pace, end-times prophecies again came into sharp focus. Hal Lindsay wrote "The Late Great Planet Earth". Teachings on the Book of Revelations became the rage and Prophecy Conferences complete with charts and graphs were attended by thousands.

Jesus said there would be troublesome times! Indeed, there have been! Evil is on the march. It never rests. As the Church was lulled into a slumber, evil found less resistence. But those days came and went. The world survived. The Church shook itself a bit and responded with a renewed emphasis on evangelism and church-growth.

I share this brief history lesson just to give some perspective as we focus our 40 Day Fearless study on the Fear of Global Calamity. The fact is that Jesus plainly told us things would get bad, really bad, before they would get better. We have seen bad days and we will see worse days. That is precisely why we must live by faith and overcome our fears. As evil dominates planet earth it doesn't have to dominate you! As others despair you can declare that Jesus is Lord and God is on His Throne!

And, back in those days of my youth, gospel music was the rage. This was one of the songs that brought hope and comfort in the middle of the chaos. If you are a gospel music fan, enjoy!