Study 2: God’s Plan For Us
It is an impersonal world and all too often we create God in our image and assume that He is an impersonal God who is not interested in us at all. Nothing could be further from the truth.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
These are His words. They should be enough to convince us. He is, after all, God. But we also live in a world of skepticism. Continue reading “Study 2: God’s Plan For Us”
“Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me.” (Matthew 24: 9)
Most are familiar with the persecution of the early church, which lasted until the 4th century AD when Emperor Constantine converted to Christianity and declared the Roman Empire to be a Christian empire. So, this part of Christ’s Olivet prophecy did in fact play out within a generation’s time. But what about today as we move ever so closer to the end of the age? Who are the most persecuted people in the world today?
According to the International Society for Human Rights, a secular group with members in 38 states worldwide, 80 per cent of all acts of religious discrimination in the world today are directed at Christians. The Centre for the Study of Global Christianity in the United States estimates that 100,000 Christians die every year, targeted because of their faith in Christ. This works out to approximately eleven an hour. The Pew Research Center says that hostility to religion reached a new high in 2012, when Christians faced some form of discrimination in 139 countries, or in almost three-quarters of the world’s nations. All this seems counter-intuitive here in the West where the history of Christianity has been one of cultural dominance and control. (1) Yet even here, over the years, this has been slowly eroding. Like soil erosion, it may start out subtly and not all that noticeable in the beginning. But as it progresses and accelerates, as it has in recent years, it becomes more and more obvious.
Walk The Walk
1 Kings 2:2, 3 – “So be strong, show yourself a man, and observe what the Lord your God requires: Walk in His ways, and keep His decrees and commands, His laws and His requirements.” (NIV 1978)
My Musing – In God’s eyes, “being a man” is not about bravado or physical prowess. Being a man is about having a Godly character: observing His laws and walking in His ways.
My Advice – Be strong in character and in integrity. Be someone that others can admire and look up to because of your goodness, kindness, convictions and moral fiber.
“There will be famines and earthquakes in various places.” (Matthew 24:7b).
This verse lists two signs, which can occur independently or in tandem (natural disasters often lead to famine).
• Famine – It is estimated that the world produces enough food to feed everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kilocalories (kcal) per person per day. Yet the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that nearly 870 million of the earth’s 7.1 billion people, or nearly one in eight (twelve percent), suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012. (1) Thus today, famine is an issue of affordability and/or distribution rather than scarcity caused by worldwide famine and disaster. A time is coming when this will no longer be the case, and perhaps we are already witnessing the birth pains.
• Natural Disaster – According to recent studies, the number of natural/climatic (floods, storms, tropical cyclones, local storms, heat/cold waves, droughts and wildfires) and geophysical disasters (earthquakes, volcanoes, dry rock-falls, landslides and avalanches) taking place each year is noticeably escalating. According to AccuWeather, since 1990, natural disasters have affected 217 million people every single year. From 1980 to 2009 there was an 80 percent increase in the growth of climate-related disasters. Between 2001 and 2010, more than $1.2 trillion was lost to the increased rates of natural disasters. This was a dramatic rise, which between 1981 and 1990 had been roughly $528 billion. With storms such as Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan, Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Irene, as well as the tsunamis and earthquakes that plagued Japan, an emerging and troublesome trend may be emerging. (2)
The Cost of Sacrifice
2 Samuel 24-24 – “I will not sacrifice to the Lord my God burnt offerings that cost me nothing.”
My Musing – We need to live a sacrificial life for God. Giving to God things of little value or sacrifice speaks volumes about our motives and true desire to serve Him.
My Advice – Do not give God your leftovers or your extras that mean nothing. Give Him your best, whether this is time, talent or tithes. Be sacrificial. He was sacrificial for you.
“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.” (Matthew 24:6-7a)
Jesus was speaking during the period of history known as Pax Romana (Latin for Roman peace). This was a prolonged period of relative peace and minimal military expansion that was experienced during the Roman Empire in the 1st and 2nd centuries AD. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, this period of peace spanned approximately 206 years (27 BC to 180 AD). Pax Romana is said to have been a miracle of sorts because prior to it there had never been peace for such an extended span of time in any given period of human history up to that point. (1) Since that time, of course, history has been full of “wars and rumors of wars.”
July 28, 2014 marked the 100th anniversary of World War I. At the time it was considered the “war to end all wars.” Originally known as the Great War, it received a number after World War II taught mankind it needed to number them. The total number of military and civilian casualties in World War I was estimated at over 37 million. This included 16 million dead and 20 million wounded. (2) Before that generation had passed away, the world was engaged in its second world war. World-wide casualty estimates for World War II were approximately 15 million battle deaths, 45 million civilian deaths and 25 million wounded in battle. Estimates are imprecise and can vary widely, depending on the source. For example, the number of civilian deaths in China alone, by some estimates, might have been well over 50 million. (3)
As the 21st century began, any hopes that mankind would turn the page from the “century of war” was shattered (at least for the United States) on September 11, 2001. On this date, the nation experienced its second “day of infamy,” and the United States has essentially been at war continuously ever since in its battle against terrorism. Nevertheless, along with the warning of “wars and rumors of wars,” Jesus also said “…see to it you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come.” Apparently, mankind will not put an end to war as a prelude to Christ’s return. Ultimately, a worldwide conflict far worse than either of the world wars, will culminate in the true “war to end all wars” called Armageddon and the second coming of Christ.
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
- From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Above cartoon from: The 2:7 Series, Course 3, NavPress, 1979.
FROM THE MIND OF WEBSTER Continue reading “When Faith Hopes For Unseen Certainties”