The End of All Things

God says to us, “But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.” (1Pe 4:7) If God was exhorting saints to prepare for the end of the world two millennia ago, then we are at a loss; the world didn’t end then and it hasn’t since. Immediate context provides precious little help in interpreting, so we turn to the broader context of Scripture for insight.

BarnInStormThe fact that God pleads with us to not expect Messiah’s return before the time (2Th 2:1-3), suggests God isn’t warning us that the end of the world is upon us; there must first come a falling away, which we still have not seen.

The key here appears to lie in the word end, which may convey the idea of a goal or purpose or final result. (Ja 5:11) If we understand it this way, God is telling us that the goal or purpose of all things, the reason everything happens, is at hand, or obvious, or readily perceived. This purpose is repeated in many places, as in the immediate context, “that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ.” (1Pe 4:11)

God is evidently telling us that we should be sober, prayerful, thoughtful, deliberate in our actions because He intends to glorify His Son Jesus Christ in and through everything. Though sin should grieve us, we need not fret and worry and stew over rebellion, blindness and brokenness all around us, or try in any way to control any of it; God will glorify Himself in and through all. (Ro 11:36)

Rather than letting corruption steal our joy, we should be thankful in and for all things (Ep 5:20), knowing that our God works all things together for good to those who love Him (Ro 8:28), and allows all for a purpose: to glorify Himself. (Ps 46:10)

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God Is Faithful

RainbowDoubleGod is faithful (1Co 1:9): true to His word, keeping His promises, trustworthy, dependable; we can safely trust Him to do what He says He’s going to do.

We can see this both in Scripture (2Th 3:3) and in Nature: for every need He’s designed fulfillment. YHWH is good; we need Him to be faithful, and He is, more than we can know. (Je 17:7-8)

But the enemy lies to us about God’s nature, twisting God’s promises and promoting wrong expectations so when God doesn’t meet them we’re tempted to mistrust Him. Falling for his lies steals our joy and traps us in bitterness; it’s too painful.

So God set His bow in the clouds to remind us of His faithfulness (Ge 9:13); scientists still don’t fully understand how He does it. Jehovah’s gone out of His way to assure us that He’ll never break His Word; He makes no promise lightly; He puts His reputation on the line in every single one. God’s promises are exceedingly precious gifts, open doorways inviting us into His nature. (2Pe 1:4) 

As we wait on the Lord, expecting Him to be faithful, we’re saved by hope; it’s an abundant life of faith rooted in the character and nature of God. (Jn 10:10) 

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Too Painful

When I lose sleep over injustice, and recently it seems to be often, I know I’m not handling it well — it’s too painful for me (Ps 73:16); I’m letting the enemy steal my joy. (Php 4:6) It’s time for a little reminder: God is just. (Pr 2:8)

What if God always rewarded good and evil with immediate pleasure or pain,BarnStorm training us like Pavlov’s dogs? We’d never know the depravity of the human heart … or the goodness of God.

In order to fully reveal Himself God must allow evil to go unchecked for a season; this exposes the human heart, and provides Jehovah a venue to glorify Himself. (Ro 9:22-23) The season may be longer than we’d like, but it’s a necessity.

I remind myself that God is faithful; He will bring every secret thing out into light; all will be revealed (Mk 4:22), dealt with and straightened out. (Lk 3:5-6) He may not be as prompt we’d like, but He’s perfectly just (Ro 2:2) and His timing’s always best. (Ps 104:31) My focus is to walk worthy of Christ, in intimate fellowship with God, and leave the rest to Him. (Ro 14:4)

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Root of Bitterness

Robert Charity: Smoky Mountains
Robert Charity: Smoky Mountains

When things aren’t going our way, and we’re praying for God to come through for us … and He doesn’t, it’s tempting to doubt His goodness, to question His justice, to become resentful and angry. It’s called a root of bitterness. (He 12:15)

Bitterness steals our joy and hope; it can spread quickly into others suffering with us.

Giving in to bitterness is accusing God of being unfaithful, unjust, missing a precious opportunity to glorify Him in faith when all seems lost. But why is this so tempting for us? What good ever comes of it?

No suffering is easy, but sinning in our pain always makes it worse. We’re saved by hope, so when we’re seeing rock bottom let’s do as David did: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (1Sa 30:6)

Nothing’s too hard for Jehovah; every promise He’s ever made He’ll keep. He is perfectly just; He only allows evil in order to glorify Himself, and He will right all wrongs. (Is 4:4-5) Let’s count on His faithfulness and rejoice in Him, especially when it looks hopeless … that’s His specialty.

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Shield of Faith

In our spiritual journey do we feel more like a target than a soldier? Struggling to keep our joy only to find we’re constantly being taken down in worry, frustration, disappointment and fear? Perhaps we’re missing our shield.

Wildernessjpg
Patagonia, Argentina

Many helpful pieces comprise our armor, but none’s more essential in spiritual warfare than the shield of faith. (Ep 6:16)

Above all. Above our sword, above the girding belt, above the shodden feet, salvation’s helmet and the breastplate of righteousness … we must have our shield of faith.

Faith: knowing God is for us, because He says so. (Ro 8:31)

Faith: knowing, no matter what happens, that all things work together for good to us who love God, because He says so. (Ro 8:28)

There are many dangers, toils and snares in our homeward journey, yet God is faithful. Faith is knowing God sees the end from the beginning, that He’s able to keep us from falling, and that He’ll present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24-25)

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Live by Faith

Faith is basic to spiritual life (He 11:6), but what exactly is it?

LiveByfFithFaith is supernatural confidence (Mk 11:22), absolute assurance (He 10:22), the absence of doubt about something. (Ja 1:6) It is so inexplicably complete and strong that it becomes in itself evidence of the veracity of its object. (He 11:1) It is distinct from desire and wishful thinking; it can only be stronger or weaker in terms of the scope of what is believed, not in the strength of the belief.

Faith is God’s gift enabling us to trust Christ for eternal salvation (Ep 2:8), to abound in hope (Ro 15:13) and to access the transforming power of God. (He 10:38) It is the flip side of repentance (Ac 20:21): God’s gift of full persuasion convincing us of truth.

When we lack faith, let’s follow the disciples’ example and ask God to increase our faith(Lk 17:5) He is able to glorify Himself in and through us. (Ep 3:20)

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My Course

Why am I here? Alive on this earth? It’s a question we all ask; rooted in our nature. We’re driven to find purpose and meaning, but what does this mean – for life to have meaning?

Claustral Canyon, Blue Mountains, Australia
Claustral Canyon, Blue Mountains, Australia

If no one ever acknowledges my life, considers how I’ve lived or what I’ve done, I have no purpose. Having meaning implies being evaluated: judged.* But by whom?

In the end, Man can’t give me meaning; I can’t give myself or others purpose. Living just to please others is empty. (Ga 1:10)

Only the One Who made me gives me purpose; Jehovah designs and creates each of us for a reason, and this defines our purpose. In Him I find my race, my course. (2Ti 4:7-8)

God gives each of us unique gifts, dispositions and opportunities (1Co 12:8-11) so that we can fulfill God’s unique purpose in creating us. It’s in leveraging my own unique design to serve and honor God the best I know how that I discover my course and run my race. (Ro 12:6-8)

I can’t spend my life trying to exercise other people’s gifts; I’m not designed to do everything for God. (Jn 21:22) What I do best is where I fit in His kingdom; it’s where I belong, for His glory. (Re 3:12)

In the end, only one thing matters: hearing God say, “Well done.” (Mt 25:23)

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*See first comment below

Your Father Knows

In giving perspective in prayer, Yeshua grounds us in the fact that we aren’t informing God of anything: He already knows what we need. (Mt 6:7-8) So it isn’t the form or quantity of our prayers that matters; the key is in our motivation. (Ja 4:3) Prayer is God inviting us into His work. (Ep 1:11)

Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park, Brazil

Given this, it really makes no sense to recite prayers unless our hearts find honest, sincere expression in them. Just think how anyone else would feel if we scripted conversation like that!

Similarly, neither does praying in tongues, apart from our understanding and will, make any sense — using our bodies as passive conduits rather than expressing our hearts. (1Co 14:14-15)

To pray apart from thoughtful passion is to think wrongly of God, that He’s disinterested in our hearts, that He’d rather partition and fragment us than engage intimately with our entire being. (1Jn 5:14-15) It treats Him more like a vending machine than a loving father, like a robot responding to command stimuli, regardless of motive or source. It’s a pagan view of God.

While God delights in engaging us in His work and transforming us through prayer, He’s not limited by our ability to pray, or even our lack of prayer. (Da 4:35b) He’s actually the One moving in us to pray according to His good pleasure (Php 2:13); and when we don’t pray like we should, or don’t know how to, He is praying for us Himself according to His own will. (Ro 8:26-27)

So let’s pray like we breathe … organically, intrinsically, continuously (Ro 12:12) … telling Him everything, moving in and through Him with every pulse of our being. (Ep 4:6) Dial Him first thing in the morning, and never hang up.

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What If God?

Why does God allow so much evil, pain and suffering in the world? We know instinctively that He could stop it … but He doesn’t — so we’re tempted to doubt His goodness. What could be His motive?

Well, what would it be like if God never allowed anything bad to happen? Sure, there’d be no sin or suffering, but what would we know about God or ourselves?

We’d never know He was preventing evil and suffering … would we? We’d never FireyTreeexperience His mercy or patience; we’d know nothing of His sacrificial love or His willingness to suffer with us, or of His justice, wrath and holiness … or of our own selfishness and depravity … and very little of His wisdom and power. It would be pleasant for sure, but rather dull … uninteresting … boring. There’d be no contrast.

By allowing evil God has been revealing both Himself and everything outside Himself; this is actually His motive in Creation: the more evil He allows the more we know about Him and ourselves. (Ro 9:22-23)

Will knowing God intimately be worth it all in the end? Evidently, God thinks so … and He’s already there (Is 57:15) … bringing forth unspeakable beauty from all the brokenness. (Is 61:3, 1Pe 1:7)

The truth is, God hasn’t responded to most of the evil in the world yet, but He will one Day. (Ac 17:31) Just because we haven’t seen full justice doesn’t mean we won’t. And if the little we’ve seen of His response so far is any indication, it will be utterly amazing, glorious beyond description. (Re 20:11)

Meanwhile, God has shown us enough to help us rejoice in Him, to trust Him implicitly and confidently, and to glory in Him alone. (Je 9:23-24) Let’s do so, believing He will never break a promise, be unfaithful, or a disappointment in the end. “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1Co 2:9)

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Saved by Hope

Hope: an expectation that something good will happen, the delightful foretaste of blessings not yet seen, the heart’s response to God’s faithfulness. Hope is a cornerstone of spiritual life, intrinsic to all godliness. (1Co 13:13a) Life can be unbearable without it; Jehovah says we are saved by it. (Ro 8:24)

Hope saves by rescuing us from anxiety, worry, Hopedespair and despondency, giving us strength to live joyfully, to walk worthy of Him, with purpose and dignity even in the midst of our afflictions.

Knowing God is just and good keeps hope alive in this broken world. We must remember that YHWH has a glorious purpose in all evil and suffering. His Day will come: He will right all wrong; He will judge all in righteousness and truth. (Ps 9:8) In the end, as surely as we are, God’s children will exult in Him.

The Almighty makes no promise lightly; He puts His name and character on the line in every single one. He need not do so for Himself: He is giving us an ultimate opportunity to honor Him, to trust His heart before seeing His hand.

Will Heaven see any promise unfulfilled? to even one person? What have we to lose in acting out His faithfulness? Is there a better way to glorify Him? Or any other way … is it even possible to honor Him without trusting Him?

Let the world go its way, heedless of glory and judgment to come. Keeping our eyes on the heart of our King, let us count on Him; expect Him to fulfill His Word. Let our story be the joyful anticipation of heavenly reality … an abiding witness of God’s eternal faithfulness. “Now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope, through the power of the Holy Ghost.” (Ro 15:13)

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