Welcome to the Fall 2015
edition of the From His Heart Newsletter: REAL
. We trust the insights below will be a blessing to you. Scroll down to view the following articles in this edition or click here
to download the newsletter as a pdf.
- How to Shine for Christ in these Last Days
- Q & A with Jeff - Dealing with Preparing for Jesus' Return
- From Debbie’s Heart - Finding Comfort in His Promises
- A Note From Jeff
- Your Gifts at Work
I get a lot of questions about whether or not we’re living in the last days. And the answer to that is yes—the last days are a period of time between the first and second coming of the Lord.
But the question people really want answered is this: Is Jesus going to return soon? And if you’re asking for what I think the answer is, I would say, “Yes, He is.” Now I could be wrong. But as I look around our world, I simply can’t fathom it continuing down the path it’s currently on for much longer.
So what does the Bible say is ahead of us as we inch closer to Christ’s return? Well, as I look at the passage in 2 Timothy 3, I discover three important challenges the people of God are going to face as the end draws nearer …
Number one: The days will become increasingly violent and dangerous.
Persecution of Christians is at an all-time high around the world today. And just because we’re living in a bubble of perceived safety doesn’t mean that bubble won’t soon burst. With homosexual “marriage” now legalized nationwide, militant atheists on the march, governmental laws becoming more and more anti-Christian, and terrorists ready and willing to take out the infidels, it’s very possible our days of being able to freely proclaim the gospel are limited.
Number two: These days will see a rise in false teachers and false teaching.
Religious authorities in these last days are going to become increasingly Christ. We already see this in the works, with more and more of a bent in the religious world today toward New Age, self-help, and universalistic teaching. And you can rest assured that many people will continue to seek out “feel-good” messages rather than focused messages explaining what the Bible really says.
Number three: The days will require Christians to be good soldiers.
Paul tells us in 2 Timothy 2:3, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” And in these last days, it is becoming apparent that the Christian life is a battleground, not a playground. The days of Christians just sitting in a circle and singing “Kumbaya” are in the rear-view mirror.
But Paul is reminding Timothy and us that walking with Jesus was never designed to be easy - “Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). So as the days get more difficult, we must strengthen our resolve to stay faithful and fight the good fight of faith!
One day, Christ will return in glory. There will be singing, dancing, and an end to every struggle. But until then, make it your mission to shine for Jesus and share the good news of His cross and empty tomb with the world!
You see, God made men with gaps… and He made women with gaps. But when a man and woman come together, they fill those gaps.
Q: Jeff, knowing the end is getting closer every day gives me a lot of anxiety. What encouragement does the Bible have for me?
A: You’re not alone. The thought of facing the kind of persecution the Bible talks about can be pretty unsettling. But there are two things we as Christians have to remember when it comes to the difficult days ahead: First, God has promised He will rescue us from the wrath that is to come (1 Thessalonians 1:10). Christians will face tribulation, but not the great tribulation. I believe the Lord will come in the clouds for His own at the rapture, the catching away of the Church (1 Thessalonians 4:17). This coming event is the blessed hope and comfort of believers.
Second, I find great comfort in knowing that whatever we face, God has our good in mind. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God.” We have no reason to fear, but we can have full confidence that God will take care of us, even when these hard days hit.
Q: How can I be sure I’ll be ready for the return of Jesus?
A: Great question … and the answer is very simple. You need to make certain you’ve truly given your heart and life to Jesus Christ, that you’ve turned from sin and self, and placed your full and complete trust in the Savior alone for salvation. Churchianity won’t cut it. You have to have the real thing—a genuine relationship with Jesus that truly changes you from the inside out.
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There’s a phrase I heard many years ago that has always stuck with me: “over promise, under deliver.” The first time I heard it was when a person had pledged to do several things, but didn’t do them. So he couldn’t be trusted to do what he said he was going to do.
In my youth, I was taught that if I made a promise, unless I was dead or in the hospital, I better follow through on it. My grandmother would remind me to always “put your money where your mouth is.”
As we look around at our world, we can see a whole lot of “over promise, under deliver” going on. Those seeking office in 2016 are making promise after promise to provide us a better tomorrow, as the network news reports the ugly condition of our world 24/7. We see our nation becoming less and less “Christian,” and it’s easy to become discouraged. Fear, frustration, anxiety, and hopelessness can take over our hearts and minds.
Yet these happenings are exactly as the Bible predicted at the end times. So we shouldn’t be surprised. Matthew 24 is filled with promises of hardships for God’s people up until the return of Christ. Now that can seem like really bad news, right?
But here’s the good news: Jesus NEVER over promises and under delivers. He ALWAYS puts his money where his mouth is. Every single promise in His word is true, and He WILL fulfill it.
So instead of looking around and being discouraged, we need to be looking up for His return. Titus 2:13 reminds us to look for “the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus.”
Taking Jesus at His word means we endure hardships with the end in mind. We know while on this earth He will “never leave us nor forsake us” (Deuteronomy 31:6). We also know He’s coming back for us!
So don’t lose heart. Choose to view these temporary weighty conditions and challenges in the scope of eternity, and they will seem light and momentary (2 Corinthians 4:17). Spend time in His Word, cling to His promises, and BE ENCOURAGED! Back to Top
I ran across a story a while back about a German pastor named Pastor Schweitzer. Pastor Schweitzer was ministering in Latvia right after World War I, when he was arrested by the Russians and taken to a prison camp.
The prison where he was put was known as “The prison without a hope on earth.” The guards were brutal, but Pastor Schweitzer resolved that he was going to shine for Jesus, no matter what. And he did that by singing.
One of the Russian commanders got sick of the singing and placed Pastor Schweitzer in solitary confinement. But he could still hear him singing in the distance. Finally, the ruthless commander took Schweitzer outside into the below-zero cold, sprayed him down with water, and left him there to freeze to death.
The next morning, some of the prisoners went outside to see what had happened. There they found Pastor Schweitzer, completely frozen, but with his arms in the position of a cross. They knew that day he was now singing with the angels in heaven.
You and I will probably never experience persecution like that. But that story is such an encouragement to me that no matter what challenges we face in these last days, God will reward our faithfulness. And we have other brothers and sisters who have paid the ultimate price, remained faithful to the end, and are today praising God in heaven.
It’s my prayer that as you’ve read this edition of our newsletter, you’ve been emboldened to press forward in your faith as you look ahead to the wonderful day of Christ’s return.
I hope you’ll request your copies of How Near Is the End? and Future Shock today. I pray they’ll encourage you as you shine and share Jesus in these last days.
Thank you for your encouragement and generous support. You are a blessing to me!
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“Your weekly devotionals always encourage me. There’s always something to meet me right where I am. Anybody can say good stuff, but I love your devotionals because they truly line up with the Word!” —Erin
“This is the one program I can truly relate to. The churches in our town are all small and dying. But what you say is so tenderhearted yet strong. Your ministry means the world to me, and I love you in Christ.” —Ron
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