“He answered and said unto them, When it is evening, ye say, It will be fair weather: for the sky is red. And in the morning, It will be foul weather to day: for the sky is red and lowring. O ye hypocrites, ye can discern the face of the sky; but can ye not discern the signs of the times?” (Matthew 16:2-3 KJV)
Long ago, and what may seem by some to be a much different context, the Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus looking for a sign. While the sign they were looking for would be evidence of the first coming of Jesus, I think many today look for signs of His return. Each year the evidence of a spiritual battle becomes more and more apparent to those looking for it. Each year it becomes less and less evident to those interested in their own agendas. The worse the coming battle or destruction is perceived the less radical the separatist lifestyles of the Amish and Mennonites seem and their model seems increasingly plausible. The more talk of a coming judgment and a coming savior, the more eager the spiritually blind are that the Christians disappear. Have you noticed that there is at least one common problem in looking for a sign? All to often, it is not looking for the sign that is the problem, but what the person does with it once they have it. To the manager, a sign is a tool to best hedge what he has and an indicator as to the optimal time to head for the hills. To the manager, a sign is only as valuable as the practical and personal use that it can be put to. Multiple predictions and conflicting dates are little more than an annoying confusion that is of little practical use to him. Yet the struggles persist and the various predictions keep coming.
The one who looks to Jesus with a heart of surrender sees the picture differently. He does not deny the battle is likely to be a loosing struggle in the short term (see Revelation 13:7), nor that it is very likely to cost him his own head (see also Revelation 20:4). Yet he can see the practical applications of spreading God's Word much earlier in the process. Similar to not waiting until the court date to decide which parent you are going to live with, you seek help for the spouse the moment they begin seeking someone else. The person who is surrendered to Jesus does not necessarily deny the coming medical rationing, but rushes forward to pray for the sick in complete faith and seeks out ways to find treatments when they seem so scarce. He morns with those who have lost someone and rejoices with those who have been blessed with a miracle. In all situations he teaches those around him to give thanks and to praise the Lord openly.
It may be difficult knowing the overall short term prospects are slim and getting worse, but our short term goal is not to roll things back to a better managed system (although we can certainly try). Our short term goal needs to be to harvest the remaining lost before they are lost forever. We will find that in changing our hearts toward Jesus in a more complete surrender now, that more shall be changed forever by someone much more qualified. A microcosm of that moment can begin now.
“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” (1 Corinthians 15:52 KJV)
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