Blog, Influencers Devotionals

Prepared? by Rocky Fleming

May 2, 2023

But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. 2 Timothy 3:1-5 (ESV)

In 1966, as a 21-year-old college student, I was exposed for the first time to teachings on Bible Prophesy.  Israel had become a nation again in 1948, and it was only 18 years later that my awareness began.  Like me, there were people becoming very interested.  Books and movies have now been produced since then that have created interest and intrigue even more.  We hear the question often, “Are we in the last days?”  As we read the scripture above, we would have to almost dismiss our intellectual reasoning to not at least observe that we may very well be in those “last days” that the Apostle Paul speaks of.  Can any words describe better the deteriorating culture we see in our country than those described in this verse?  But it is not only here.  We see it worldwide, don’t we?

I’ve observed several responses to the question about last days and Christ’s return.  There’s the response, “Oh people have been talking about that for hundreds of years and nothing happened,” and the one asking the question feels shamed and ridiculed.  There’s the response, “That’s something we aren’t to think about, for no one knows when Jesus is going to return,” and the one asking the question is indirectly chastised for asking such a thing.  Then there are those who say, “I don’t think you can put your trust in such a thing,” and saying such reveals how little they know about the bible or believe it.  Look what Jesus said, if you want to know if you can trust such a thing:

“Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”  Matthew 24:42-44 (ESV)

Here’s the truth as I see it.  If you want to disdain what Jesus plainly said about the last days before His return as irrelevant and nonessential, you may also dismiss your mission to make disciples, dismiss your responsibility to live by His standards and not the world’s, dismiss your responsibility to be part of the greatest rescue effort the world has ever seen, and dismiss the hope He gives during the trials of the last days.  Just because we don’t read the news because it seems all bad and disturbing, doesn’t take away the fact that the news is bad and disturbing and getting worse.  But here’s the good news.  Jesus said it would be that way, and He also said:

“I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.”  John 16:33 (ESV)

Can we not see how relevant our mission as disciples of Christ is in the “last days?”  If we are in the last days, do we dig in and hide, or do we courageously advance to the people who are dealing with the crisis and tribulations in the last days?  Are we raised up to wait to be taken up, or are we raised up to lift others up to their Savior when tribulation occurs?  Do we have a hope that goes beyond our last days and realize that they are temporary, or do we think only about our tribulation and hope to escape before it comes upon us?  Why would God do that if we are His messengers of hope to the hopelessly lost in this world?  Why would He remove us, when we are so needed?

The early thoughts and prophetic teachings I read told me that before the tribulation comes, the rapture will take Christians away.  I loved that news.  It gave me comfort that we will be evacuated before the pain begins.  Honestly, even now I hope it is true, though some prophesy experts don’t agree with it.  I know there’s plenty of scriptures to support each position, and we will never know until we truly know the truth or theory of what happens.  But I don’t have the comfort that I once had about escaping tribulation, and for that reason I feel that my mission as a disciple maker is to younger generations who will be living in the most difficult world that we have ever known.  I truly believe to be prepared for such challenges, they need to know how to walk with Jesus.  Why so?  It is because of what He said.  “But take heart; I have overcome the world.”

If there is anyone who can show us how to navigate the most dangerous and dreadful of times, it is Jesus who has overcome it.  It is He who knows the future, and knows our future, and is very invested in our life.  We learn to lean into Him and find the strength and stability to navigate our life by His voice, power and love.  I feel that followers of Christ are being raised up for such a time that we are in now and in the future.  Therefore, be prepared for it by learning to walk with Him.  It is also called, “abiding.”