Welcome to 2023!
Most of us find it hard to wait, with patience an early victim when we think of things to do instead of wasting time waiting. We actually spend a great part of our lives waiting, if you think about it. Standing in a line, waiting for traffic congestion to clear up, a medical appointment — the list is very long.
Frustrating as it is, waiting doesn’t have to be useless spending of a precious commodity. I once met a man who pulled a pack of cards from his pocket, all with Bible verses printed on them. He told me he always gets one out to memorize the verse on it while he waits for a red light to turn green, or when he waits for something else. Others pray, or look for someone to talk to. People nowadays pull out their phones. Waiting is only a waste of time if spent doing nothing.
Christians have been looking forward to the coming of the Lord for a long time now, and many have given up the hope, or lost faith in His promise. Some turn aside to enjoy secular lifestyles because the waiting has become too long for them. The apostle Peter had something to say to them:
…scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? For since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation.” 2 Peter 3:3,4
I once spoke to a Christian of long standing about the last days, and he gave me the exact answer mentioned in the verses above. I found it tragic and very disappointing, to say the least. Peter continued:
But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:8,9
It is the grace of God that leaves the door open as long as He can, giving us more time to reach the lost, to mature as His children, and to do the work He called us to. We live our lives while seeking His kingdom above all things as we wait on that glorious event. That Day will surely come; the trumpet of God will sound, and we will meet Him in the air to be with Him always. Let us therefore not see our waiting as a waste of time, but as an extended opportunity to work with Him to gather in His harvest.
The last hours of waiting are always the most difficult. That is the part where discouragement sets in and the temptation to find something more enjoyable to do, clouds the mind. But remember, the darkest part of the night is just before sunrise.
God is not slack concerning His promise, but gracious toward us: we must “work while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work,” as Jesus once said.
Darkness is falling on the world as you read this article; the signs of the last days can be seen clearly and abundantly all around us. We have entered the last lap of the race; the beginning of sorrows and the birth pangs are upon us. There can be no doubt about this. The news media is mostly silent about the escalating loss of freedoms the world over, but it is happening silently, one tiny step at a time. The infrastructure to control your every move, and every penny you spend, (Revelation 13) is in place, and will soon be introduced as the Central Bank Digital Currency. Governments have been spending money on undeserving projects by the billions of dollars the last few years to weaken their economies and chip away at the financial independence of their citizens.
Jesus spoke a parable to explain this very time to us:
Blessed are those servants whom the master, when he comes, will find watching. Assuredly, I say to you that he will gird himself and have them sit down to eat, and will come and serve them. And if he should come in the second watch, or come in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants. Luke 12:37-38
The first watch is always the easiest; it is a little more than a long evening. The second watch is harder, as weariness of the day’s labour takes its toll. The third watch, in the dead of night, is the hardest, when sleepiness dulls your alertness and refocuses you on one thing: fatigue, and the need to rest. But loyal, wise servants know their responsibilities and soldier on, no matter their feelings.
The message in the parable quoted above is clear: be ready at all times! There can be no doubt that we have gone past the first watch, probably the second watch too, and, looking at the condition of the world in the light of the signs given to us for the last days, we most certainly find ourselves in the third watch now. Believers are getting tired; some are sleeping already. There is no urgency in our message or walk with the Lord. We allow all kinds of personal ambitions or feelings to distract us from holy, fruitful living. And secular interests matter a little too much for such a late hour.
But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into.
Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Luke 12:39,40
While the going gets tough, the Master is looking for faithful stewards — men and women who are single-minded about serving Him. Obedience is proven in the heat of the day.
Then Peter said to Him, “Lord, do You speak this parable only to us, or to all people?” And the Lord said, “Who then is that faithful and wise steward, whom his master will make ruler over his household, to give them their portion of food in due season? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. Truly, I say to you that he will make him ruler over all that he has. But if that servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat the male and female servants, and to eat and drink and be drunk, the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him, and at an hour when he is not aware, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the unbelievers. Luke 12:41-46
Frustrations arise and temptations intensify when the Master delays His coming, as we can see in the parable above. Add to that the pressure caused by changes we now have to deal with in the world already give rise to toxic behaviour in people who have not been trained to live by wholesome principles. Paul, looking ahead to our day, wrote to Timothy what he saw:
But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of them-selves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5
Wise stewards set aside their frustrations and feelings by looking past the difficulties of our broken world, and fixing their eyes on God’s promises.
Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:36
The exhortation in Hebrews that encouraged early Jewish believers not to give up, also speaks to us today:
Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed. Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Hebrews 12:12-15
We all wonder what 2023 will bring, but the Lord is hoping to find us busy, doing what He called us to do!
By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples. John 15:8