article by site founder, Connie Rice
To many of us, the world seems upside down and in some ways, at war with reality itself. It seems as if a line in the sand is being drawn and people may not be able to avoid choosing a side. Things that have been known and understood by all cultures for almost two millennium are being challenged, and people are being told not to believe their own eyes or even proven biological and scientific facts. For people old enough to remember the “Twilight Zone“ TV show, it’s like being in one of the episodes. Similarities to the book, “1984” by George Orwell has caught the attention of people familiar with his writings. Those who know Scripture are able to recognize the spiritual battle that is raging around us. It’s sad that biblical illiteracy is so high, because many will be deceived by the dark forces that are increasingly at work in this world. Nobody knows exactly when Jesus will return for His followers and God could certainly choose to turn things around now as He has turned around other dark times in history. However, we are seeing more things converge on a global scale recently that were foretold in Scripture and we are told to be aware of the signs of the times. For those who may not know where in the Bible to look may find a “Crosswalk” article by Dr. Roger Barrier helpful: “Signs of the End Times and Knowing When the End Is Near”. God has revealed Himself, told us what is true and how we should live, as well as what to expect before Christ returns. The 30-minute “Prophecy Pros Podcast” audio discussions may also help those who seek to better understand the times we are in through the lens of Scripture prophecy.
“Your word, Lord, is eternal; it stands firm in the heavens.Psalm 119:89-94
0 Your faithfulness continues through all generations;
You established the earth, and it endures. Your laws endure to this day, for all things serve You.
If Your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.
I will never forget Your precepts, for by them You have preserved my life. Save me, for I am yours“
Since most news sources do not really cover it, many people may not be aware of the high level of persecution currently being experienced by Christians around the world or how the tiny nation of Israel has been miraculously protected. Its existence as a nation state is itself a fulfilling of biblical prophecy. Once Jesus takes the Church (all of His followers), evil on earth will no longer be restrained. As disturbing as that sounds, it is important for us to consider because people will need to choose sides before this happens – will we choose God and salvation through Jesus or will we choose to hold onto our own sin? God is the source of all good and Satan is the “deceiver of the world” and “father of lies” who promotes evil. Have we come to grips with the seriousness of our own sin before a holy God? How will we answer the all-knowing Judge when we stand before Him? He is a merciful God who gives us the freedom to choose, but our choice has eternal consequences. Will we be like Esau who gave up his inheritance for a bowl of stew, satisfying a current, temporary desire, but giving up something far more valuable in the future?
“Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that He may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus. Heaven must receive Him until the time comes for God to restore everything, as He promised long ago through His holy prophets. For Moses said, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you must listen to everything He tells you. Anyone who does not listen to Him will be completely cut off from their people.’”
Scripture tells us the God has placed eternity on our hearts and that we all have a sense of right from wrong. As our Creator, He gets to define what is right and what is wrong. One of Satan’s lies is that we can decide that for ourselves. Another lie is that we can find our identify outside of Jesus – we can trust Him because He created us and He loves us so much that He voluntarily came to earth as a baby, endured hardships on earth, and after living the perfect life that none of us could, suffered greatly and laid down His life so that the penalty of death for the sins of all mankind would be paid. This made it possible for all mankind, through Him, to no longer have to be controlled or condemned by sin. Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves and He also knows the future and what we need in order to be ready for what’s around the corner. He created time and so is not bound by it. More importantly, He made it possible for those who turn from their sins and trust in Him for salvation to have a righteous standing before God – not because of our own righteousness, but because we are covered by Jesus’ righteousness.
“And the Lord God said, ‘The man has now become like one of Us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.’ So the Lord God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. After He drove the man out, He placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”Genesis 3:22-24
God created a beautiful paradise for His first man and woman (male and female) to enjoy. They enjoyed fellowship with their Creator on a daily basis. Everything they needed was there and they had nothing to fear. Because God wanted them to choose to love and trust Him, He placed one tree in the garden and commanded Adam that they were not to eat from it. Eve was deceived by Satan (as the Serpent) and both of them disobeyed God’s command, bringing evil, death, sickness, and brokenness into the world. How much regret must they have had when they no longer could live in the paradise that God had created for them to enjoy? After all God had done for them, they did not trust and obey Him. It reminds me of the song, “You don’t know what you got ’til it’s gone”. All of us at one time or another have felt rejected and betrayed. Our tendency is to react in kind because of our sinful nature, but God continues to have open arms for anyone who draws near to Him. Even with world broken from sin, there is still much beauty to behold that can take our breath away.
“We must also recognize the priority of beauty in every human heart. Part of what it means to be made in the image of God is that we yearn for things that are genuinely beautiful. Even the most hardened secularist marvels at a sunset or stands breathless at the edge of the Grand Canyon. Augustine explained in his Confessions that every human heart is directed to beauty. The problem with the sinful human heart is that we can be bought off by something less than beauty. Of course, Augustine also pointed to the fact that the human craving for beauty was not mere sentiment. Rather, true beauty reveals an objective origin and source of beauty, God Himself. Our longing for beauty ultimately reveals our desperate need for God.”Excerpt from article by R. Albert Mohler: ‘Will Beauty Save the World‘?”
Those of us who have cried out to God for His help and forgiveness have found Him waiting; we understand His amazing love and mercy firsthand and that nothing else on earth is as valuable or precious as a personal relationship with our Creator. He is so patient with those who have placed their trust in Him and choose to follow His path. Not only does the Lord provide us with the power and the desire to turn from the sins that separate us from Him, but He also knows that we will inevitably fail and fall short in our efforts. He offers restoration to all who genuinely ask. His grace is truly sufficient.
“But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of His blood—to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— He did it to demonstrate His righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.”Romans 3:21-26
People can begin a relationship with Jesus without knowing the Bible, but He reveals Himself through His Word. If we are not intentional about reading the Bible regularly, Not only are we in danger of being deceived, but we will miss out on knowing Him at a much deeper level. The more we know Him and walk with Him, trusting His plan for our lives, the more we get to experience His faithfulness so that we look forward to being with Him forever. Life on earth is hard, but Jesus, who understood suffering very well, walks with us through life’s challenges. God is going to create a new heaven and a new earth and no evil, deception, death, illness, or sadness will be there. Which side of the line in the sand will we stand? As for me, my only regret in choosing to accept God’s gift of eternal salvation through Jesus was that it took me so long; I felt like I’d wasted many years. Maintaining a clear conscience, having daily fellowship with my Creator, spending time with Him in His Word, resting in His love, and being part of His Kingdom work bring joy as well as a sense of identity and purpose that the world cannot offer. There are rocky times ahead for us all as evil rises, but when our hope is in the Sovereign One, we can be filled with His peace that the world cannot take away and can also look forward with anticipation to eternity with the One where hope is found.
© Constance Rice 2022