When I was a young teenager, my parents, teachers, and pastors were talking about Jesus' return a lot. In fact, there was a reel-to-reel recording intended to scare us to Jesus! It was kind of like Orson Welles' "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast in 1938. This reel-to-reel (think before cassette tapes) was like news broadcasts of what it would be like moments after the rapture. It made an impact on this impressionable teenager. Billy Graham also had movies which were fear-based talking about Jesus' return. (Or maybe it just put a fear in my own heart.) I tell you this so you know that God began putting an awareness in my heart at a young age to be looking for Jesus' return. I've always been interested in the end times--what to look for, what to expect. I wish I understood it all, but I don't. So I tune in to teachers who know a lot more than I do and listen.
But you don't have to be a Hebrew or Greek scholar to see that our world is shaping up to become a one-world government. I texted my friend, Kaye Smith, recently and said this, "It's happening faster than I expected!!! We're living in the end times, Kaye!!!" Agendas which were once hidden are being exposed. Our true enemy is being revealed...and so is his plan. We know Israel is going to be hated and Satan is going to try to destroy it. Israel will be standing alone in the last days without one single ally. Christians will be hated by every nation. When I was a teenager, that didn't even remotely seem like a possibility in the United States of America. Does it now? We have brothers and sisters in Christ losing everything in Iraq and in danger of losing their very lives. Pray for them.
My advice, my warning, is this. Be watchful...not fearful, but watchful. Make the most of the time.
"Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour."
I Peter 5:8
Let me make it a bit more personal. Not only is our world shaping up for the return of Christ but our enemy knows his time is short and he's in all-attack mode. He hates us because God loves us...and he hates God. So he wants to destroy us, our love for others, and our unity. Our unity is a sign to the world that Jesus came. (Read all of John 17) So what is Satan using to destroy our unity? Offenses. Satan is the Accuser of the Brethren and stands before God accusing us. And if he's accusing us to God, you can be sure he's accusing us to one another. He wants to create walls of hostility between us. He doesn't want our lives to be a billboard which points the lost world to Jesus. He hates unity. We become a force to be reckoned with when we're unified--a well-equipped army with our true enemy as our target instead of one another.
I was talking to a friend yesterday and pointing out that she has thoughts rolling around her mind which the enemy has put there and she's never thought to stop them. We have to take every thought captive to the obedience of Jesus Christ. EVERY thought! It's our job to do that. Become aware of what you're thinking!! We've become passive when God has commanded us to be alert.
It's time to come in agreement with God. We are not the enemy of one another. If you have an offense against a brother, Matthew 18:15-16 is very straightforward about how you are to handle it. We don't have time to waste being angry with one another or holding grudges against someone. I know a church whose women can't even meet because there are so many offenses, they won't even be in the same room with one another. One lady won't work with that lady in children's ministry. Another lady won't pray with that lady in prayer meeting. If so-and-so is going to that function, that lady won't go. It's a MESS! We don't have time for those kinds of messes. God has clearly instructed us to take care of offenses, to walk in unity, and to love. Jesus' last prayer on this earth was, "May they be one as We are One."
Be alert to what the enemy is doing in the world. And be watchful because we have a true enemy...and it's not us.