"The Party's About To End"   (August 2009)

Unless you have been living like an ostrich with your head buried in the sand, you know that things in the world are getting worse instead of better.  And you don’t need me to tell you so.  Things just aren’t like they used to be when I was growing up.  My husband grew up without locks on their doors- now you have to lock your doors even in the middle of the day.  People used to know their neighbors- not any more, people go for years without even speaking to the neighbor who is next door to them.  The church was the center of the community- now it’s little league, soccer, gymnastics or some form of entertainment.  As a matter of fact, the church has rescheduled itself around these other things in order to accommodate them.  In the past you could sit down with your family and watch a wholesome movie- now even the commercials will make you blush and should be rated.  You used to could sit out on your front porch and enjoy the scenery- now you have to stay inside for fear that someone will drive by and shoot you.  Your children could walk home from school by themselves- not now, they may not make it home.  I never heard of road rage, shacking up, or gangs when I was growing up.  I know, it sounds like I must have grown up in the Stone Age- I am not that very old.  There have just been a lot of changes made in the world in the last several years. 

We have even seen changes in the weather and weather patterns.  I don’t know about where you live, but lately where I live it has felt like Fall.  We have had 60 degree weather- it’s the middle of August.  Some areas had snow during the summer.  A friend up in Washington state told me that they had record breaking temperatures recently in the 80’s and 90’s- it never gets that hot there. 

Among the changes that are happening, the one that is most alarming to me is the “war” that is going on where the lives of the unborn are concerned.  I never thought I would live to see the day when people would demand to have the right to kill their unborn children, and lawmakers would give them their demands.  And not only would they put laws into motion that would assure your right to kill your unborn baby, but they even promised to fund it.  What a sad day when life has no value- even the smallest life.  How sad it is when you can mistreat an animal and be thrown into jail for it but you can kill a baby and receive praise for making a wise choice. 

Does it seem like everything is “backwards” to you?  It does to me.  Those who try to live morally, decent lives are belittled and mocked.  Those who are involved in immorality and acts of perversion are readily accepted.  The more perverse the act, the better.  Those who are honest are looked over while those who are crooked and dishonest are picked every time.  A lie is desired above the truth.  People want pleasure more than responsibility.  They want popularity at any price.  What you possess is more important than character.  People want what’s evil and abandon what’s good.  We are living in a time when evil is accepted and good is rejected, when that which is evil is called good, and that which is good is called evil.  Is there something significant about all this?  Does it mean anything?

Let me tell you what it means.  It is significant.  It was prophesied in the Bible.  “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come.  For men shall be lovers of their own selves, covetous, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, without natural affection, trucebreakers, false accusers, incontinent, fierce, despisers of those that are good, traitors, heady, highminded, lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away. For of this sort are they which creep into houses, and lead captive silly women laden with sins, led away with divers lusts, ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” (2 Timothy 3:1-8)  “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts.” (2 Peter 3:3)

These are all signs of the time in which we are living.  We were told these things would happen and that they would be a sign to us that the return of the Lord Jesus is at hand.  These are not only signs that let us know that these are the last days, I believe they are also warning signs.  “And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. And he spake to them a parable; Behold the fig tree, and all the trees; when they now shoot forth, ye see and know of your own selves that summer is now nigh at hand. So likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the kingdom of God is nigh at hand.” (Luke 21:28-31) 

When the Lord came to earth the first time, He sent a “forerunner” to prepare the way.  He sent a voice crying in the wilderness.  “Behold, I will send my messenger, and he shall prepare the way before me.” (Malachi 3:1a)  “The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isaiah 40:3)  “In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, and saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Esaias, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” (Matthew 3:1-3)  The Lord is sending those who are aware of the time and season, like John, to warn us to repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  But He also uses “signs” to send us a message.  The fact that men desire pleasure more than God, the fact that they are calling evil good, the fact that immorality is on the increase, the fact that murder and violence are becoming the norm are all signs, and they are signs that are telling us that it is close, get ready, get prepared.  These signs are “crying out” in this earth/wilderness.  

Even with all the warning signs, even with all the prophecies, even with all the alarms that are being sounded, even with all the events that are being fulfilled, I am alarmed at the number of people who are ignoring them.  Multitudes just aren't listening.  They aren't heeding the warnings.  They are going on with life as usual.  This type of attitude was another sign that Jesus spoke of in the last days.  “And as it was in the days of Noe, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all. Even thus shall it be in the day when the Son of man is revealed.” (Luke 17:26-30)

Let’s take a look at these people in Noah and Lot’s day and compare them to where we are today.  “They did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded.  They married wives, they were given in marriage.”  They carried out their daily routine.  They continued with life as usual, they made no changes, they thought things were going to go on as they always had.  People today think the same way.  They think life is going to continue as it has for the last six thousand years giving no thought to the warnings about an eternity that awaits us.  They are even mocking and making fun of those who are sending out the cry, "Prepare the way of the Lord".  You’ve heard their mocking by such statements as, “I heard the Lord was coming all my life.  My grandparents used to tell me that, so did my parents.  He hasn’t come yet.  I don’t believe He is coming.”  They thought the same thing in Noah’s day.  It is believed that it took Noah around a hundred years to build the ark.  During that length of time the people would have grown weary of hearing that the rain was coming, and would even begin to mock Noah for his preaching about the flood and his building of the ark.  But that’s just another warning sign.  “Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, and saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished.” (2 Peter 3:3-6)

“They did eat, they drank.”  It reminds me of the quote by Greek philosopher Epicurus, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow you die”.  They were only concerned with the moment and not about making preparation in case they did die “tomorrow”.  That is the philosophy of so many today.  Do all you can today, eat, drink and be merry, live for just the moment.  “You only go around once in life, so grab all the gusto you can.”  Live it to the fullest, satisfy every desire, go on every whim, live your passions.  They want everything and they want it now, no waiting.  Like the song said, “I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.”  To the majority of humanity it’s all about self-gratification, pleasure and doing my own thing if it makes me happy.

People just aren’t heeding the warnings.  They are like those in Noah and Lot’s day that we have described.  They are living life like it is one big party that will never end.  The reality and hard fact is, one day it will end, then what will you do?  Where will you be?  What’s going to happen to you?

This life has taught me that you don't ignore warnings signs.  When I am driving in my car and approach the traffic light, if that light is on red it’s a warning to me to stop.  I don’t ignore it unless I want to be hit by another car.  At the Civil Defense headquarters in our town there is a siren that is sounded alerting us that a tornado has been spotted.  We don't ignore it, but instead we seek shelter.  I can remember as a child watching television and a loud, piercing sound would come across the television without advanced warning.  Then a voice would come on and announce that it was a test of the Emergency Broadcasting System.  Then it would tell us that if it had been a real emergency we would have been given certain instructions.  When that sound came on, we didn’t ignore it, we waited to see if it was a test or the real thing.  When a fire alarm goes off, we don’t ignore it, we exit the building.  Several years ago, my daughter and I were in Wal-Mart when we heard the words, “Code Blue”, come over the loud speaker.  We soon discovered that it was a warning that there had been a bomb threat and we were to vacate the premises.  Did we ignore that warning?  No, we left.  Ignoring warning signs have consequences and those consequences can be fatal. 

People ignore the warnings daily concerning making preparation for their souls, and as a result they will face the consequences when they stand before the Lord one day.  But that is not His will- that’s why He sends warnings, that’s why He tells His children to tell others about Him, that’s why He sent Jesus.  “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)  “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16)

Only those who are alive when Christ returns will not taste death.  “Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” (1 Thessalonians 4:17)  But the rest of humanity- past, present and future- will go by way of the grave.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27)  We all have an appointment with death, we just don’t have the luxury of knowing when our appointment time will be.  It could come when we are in our senior years.  It could be only a matter of days away.  It could happen in the next moment- this could be the last breath some of us draw.  We aren’t promised tomorrow.  Life on this earth is not eternal.  “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away.” (James 4:14)  Life is also fragile.  It can’t withstand the attack of some diseases, it can only handle so much trauma, it erodes and weakens with time.  So we never know what may overcome it and take our life from us.  But what we face after this life is eternal- never ending and nothing can destroy it.  That being the case, shouldn’t our eternal life be the one that we are making the most preparation for. 

These warning signs are not just for those in the world, they are also signs that are given to the church.  When Jesus spoke about His return and the signs that accompanied it, He spoke with more reference to those who were His followers than to those who weren’t.  Immediately after Jesus talked about the days of Noah in Matthew 24, He said this, “Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come. But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord hath made ruler over his household, to give them meat in due season? Blessed is that servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, that he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lord delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his fellowservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 24:42-31)

The church has been caught “partying” also.  We haven’t been serious about our relationship with the Lord.  We have been caught doing the same thing as the world- eating, drinking, socializing, doing our own thing, living complacent, compromised lifestyles.  We have become caught up in things that have no eternal value to them.  We are letting the cares of this life choke out His life that is in us.  We have been more concerned about storing up treasures on earth than treasures in heaven.  We have created our own little “bless me clubs” and forgot about the world outside our doors that is lost and dying.  We have lost our influence because our lights have been hid under a basket.  Like the Pharisees, we have neglected to do the “weightier” matters. (Matthew 23:23)  We have forgotten that Christ is our life!

We have to ask ourselves as a whole and individually:  Have we acted like the evil servant that Jesus talked about, or the faithful and wise one?  Have we forgotten that He is returning?  Have we forgotten that He is expecting to find us faithful when He does return?  Have we forgotten that we are to be about His business and not our own?  Are we going to be caught unprepared like the five foolish virgins when the Bridegroom comes?  Are we going to be found like the disciples who could not watch and pray with Jesus?  Just what will He find in His church when He returns?

The Lord is calling us back to Himself- to love Him with all our hearts, souls, strength and mind.  He is calling us to take up our cross and follow Him.  He is calling us back to holiness, obedience and faithfulness.  He is calling us to bear fruit- fruit that remains.  He is calling us apart as living sacrifices that are holy and acceptable to Him.  He is calling us to repent and come out from among them.  He is calling us to truly be that city which is set upon a hill and cannot be hidden.  We must heed the warnings so that we won’t face the consequences that come from ignoring them, but instead receive the blessings of eternal life that He desires to give to us.  “And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)  “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4)  “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, shall give me at that day: and not to me only, but unto all them also that love his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:7,8)