By Dermot Cottuli

In spite of what our social media highlight reels tell us, life has always been messy and it’s about to get even messier. Our economy and the economy of most western nations is on the ropes and could quite easily fall over in the next few years. The interest that America pays China alone for the US treasury bonds that China holds, is equivalent to 75% of the total cost that China spends on its military each year. By 2020 it will be more than 100% With the largest standing army in the world we’re not talking small change here. Given what’s been happening in the Sth China Sea recently, If humankind is still around in 100 years it’ll be interesting to see how historians write about the times that we’re living in.

Speaking about debt, we’re seeing new records being set every year both individually and as a nation here in Australia. The tragedy is that we still think we’re entitled to hand outs and freebies failing to realise that everything we receive has to be paid for by someone and eventually the hammer is going to fall. Those who’ve placed their security in their wealth or think that to be happy you need to enjoy a particular lifestyle will find that they built their happiness on a decidedly sandy base.

Mark Steyn (After America – Get Ready For Armageddon)

“There’s nothing virtuous about “caring” “compassionate” “progressives” demonstrating how caring and compassionate and progressive they are by spending money yet to be earned by generations yet to be born.”

The environment is on its knees and may not recover. Regardless of what you believe about global warming there’s no one arguing that our world is heavily polluted, our forests are being striped bare and countless species of animals are disappearing off the face of the earth at an alarming rate, never to be seen again.

With a population of over 300 million people the 2 best candidates America can put up for its current Presidential elections are Clinton and Trump.

Adlai E. Stevenson is credited with saying…

“In America, anybody can be president. That’s one of the risks you take.”

I imagine he’s turning over in his grave today.

In a society that bellows out the battle cry “equal love” there’s very little kindness and compassion shown for anyone who may hold a different opinion when engaging in public discourse. We’re the most educated generation to ever walk the planet and yet more people die from war, injustice and poverty related issues than at any other time in humankind’s history. Marriages are crumbling, pornography is doing irreparable damage to a whole generation’s concept of sexual intimacy and children now have more rights than their parents. Personally I don’t see it getting any better. In fact I think that the next 10 years will be the most disruptive years any of us will have ever lived through if Jesus doesn’t come back before then. Speaking of which ….

Since becoming a Christian 30 years ago I’ve heard lots of people saying we were living in the last days of planet earth and that Jesus’ return was imminent. I’ve always taken the approach that others can debate and discuss those issues, I’ll just get on with winning the lost, but of late I’ve been asking myself if maybe we’re getting close. And no, I don’t think it’s age related 🙂

Even though we don’t know the exact time of Jesus’ return Jesus himself told us what we could expect to experience.

Matthew 10:16-39 NLT

“Look, I am sending you out as sheep among wolves. So be as shrewd as snakes and harmless as doves. But beware! For you will be handed over to the courts and will be flogged with whips in the synagogues. You will stand trial before governors and kings because you are my followers. But this will be your opportunity to tell the rulers and other unbelievers about me. When you are arrested, don’t worry about how to respond or what to say. God will give you the right words at the right time. For it is not you who will be speaking-it will be the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. “A brother will betray his brother to death, a father will betray his own child, and children will rebel against their parents and cause them to be killed. And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.

When you are persecuted in one town, flee to the next. I tell you the truth, the Son of Man will return before you have reached all the towns of Israel. “Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master. Students are to be like their teacher, and slaves are to be like their master. And since I, the master of the household, have been called the prince of demons, the members of my household will be called by even worse names! “But don’t be afraid of those who threaten you. For the time is coming when everything that is covered will be revealed, and all that is secret will be made known to all. What I tell you now in the darkness, shout abroad when daybreak comes. What I whisper in your ear, shout from the housetops for all to hear!

“Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows-one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it. And the very hairs on your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are more valuable to God than a whole flock of sparrows. “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven.

“Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword. ‘I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. Your enemies will be right in your own household!’ “If you love your father or mother more than you love me, you are not worthy of being mine; or if you love your son or daughter more than me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you refuse to take up your cross and follow me, you are not worthy of being mine. If you cling to your life, you will lose it; but if you give up your life for me, you will find it.

The apostle Paul also had words to say about what it would be like before the return of Jesus

2 Timothy 3:1-5 NLT

You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times. For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred. They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good. They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God. They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!

Sounds familiar doesn’t it? But should we be afraid? Is there light at the end of the tunnel?

John 16:33 NLT

I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

This morning I want to give you 4 keys that I believe will help you in the days ahead. It could be that you’re already practicing each of these and if that’s the case, well done and keep going. Maybe there’ll be something that I say this today that will trigger a change in perspective that will help you find an inner peace that’s been eluding you till this point. I’m believing that the Holy Spirit will take this message that He’s placed on my heart and minister to you this morning. I know that that’s His desire.

1) Accept responsibility for your own life

True happiness and peace aren’t dependent on an outside event because they’re an internal state. If you want to have peace that doesn’t make sense it will always be in spite of your outward circumstance rather than because of it. There is way too much blaming and finger pointing in our world today. Crying about your life won’t change it, it’s never changed mine. Deciding to take responsibility for the things I’m responsible for, has!

You’re not going to get judged for the thinks that others did or didn’t do to you. You and I will be judged for the things we did or didn’t do, the things we were responsible for.

Revelation 20:11-15

And I saw a great white throne and the one sitting on it. The earth and sky fled from his presence, but they found no place to hide. I saw the dead, both great and small, standing before God’s throne. And the books were opened, including the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to what they had done, as recorded in the books. The sea gave up its dead, and death and the grave gave up their dead. And all were judged according to their deeds. Then death and the grave were thrown into the lake of fire. This lake of fire is the second death. And anyone whose name was not found recorded in the Book of Life was thrown into the lake of fire.

2) Place Jesus first in every area of your life

Wow, that’s not very earth shattering is it? Surely your tithe is worth a better point than that? Not that Jesus isn’t important mind you, it’s just that anyone with half a brain cell knows that one!! Hmmm, maybe I should put it differently.

How about instead I give you a list of the key areas in your life and you decide which ones you’re fine to do on your own without any help from God?

  • Your Relationships
  • Your Finances
  • Your Sexuality
  • Your Career
  • Your Health
  • Your Personal growth
  • Your Children
  • Your Spouse
  • Your Legacy

You see when you place God first in your life you give him access to your life. It’s possible when walking with Jesus to have certain areas surrendered to Him and other areas locked away from His input. The question is, with you not knowing what the future holds can you afford to let your limited knowledge and experience determine the outcome of any of these key areas in your world? It should be a wake up call to all of us that most testimonies of Gods grace in a person’s life start off with a failure by them to control what happened to them and often what happened in them because of it. And then they talk about how God managed to rescue them. The control we think we have over our world and what happens to us is a fallacy – rather than trusting in yourself you’re far better off trusting in the One who can make ALL things work together for your good – both the good and the bad.

God promises us again and again in His word that when we place Him first He will look after us and cause our lives to flourish.

Proverbs 3:5, 6

Trust in the Lord with ALL your heart and lean not on your own understanding. Acknowledge him in ALL your ways and he will direct your path.

Psalm 37:23, 24

The steps of a good man are ordered by the Lord and he delights in his way.
Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down; For the Lord upholds him with His hand.

Philippians 1:6

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Romans 12:1, 2

And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. (Place Him first in every area of your life) Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Where does the majority of data that you feed into your mind during your “down time”, come from? Facebook? Netflix? Gossip mags? iTunes? Online forums? Warcraft? Now at this point you might be thinking I’m about to say it should only come from the Bible but I’m not. What I am saying is you need to THINK about your consumption patterns and the predominant values pushed by the media that you’re consuming. One day you’ll have to give an account for your life and you won’t have anyone to blame other than yourself for what you allowed to shape your behaviour and attitudes.

What questions are you looking to answer at the moment? Questions are incredibly powerful as they help to direct your thinking. Last night I posted up this thought on FaceBook in light of my message today –

“To be fully alive requires knowing what it is that you’re living for. Until you clarify that, life is simply motion without meaning.”

3) Be a seeker of truth and wisdom

John 8:31-32 

“You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

“What is truth?” was the question that Pontius Pilate asked when passing judgement on Jesus. He realised that he could only judge correctly if he was seeing the truth of the matter. He ended up washing his hands of Jesus because he couldn’t see his way through the arguments the religious leaders were throwing up to get Jesus killed. It’s my fear that a lot of Christians are doing the exact same thing today when faced with the barrage of anti-Christian thought that’s coming at us from every direction. It’s easier to wash your hands of it and go along with the flow than taking the time to really engage and think deeply about the issues, seeking to discern God’s truth in all the noise and then looking for ways to communicate those truths in a way that makes sense and can be understood. It’s one of the greatest challenges of our time.

In a world that is increasingly calling that which is evil good and that which is good evil we need to be able to see the truth clearly. And then we need to know what to do with it, which is where wisdom comes in. Where do we find truth and wisdom?

To start anywhere other than with God is foolishness.

Jesus made it very clear in the scripture that’s on the screen that in His teachings we would find truth but just in case you missed it, here are a few more

John 14:6 NLT

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Job 28:23 NLT

“God alone understands the way to wisdom; he knows where it can be found.

Proverbs 4:7-9 NLT

Getting wisdom is the wisest thing you can do! And whatever else you do, develop good judgment. If you prize wisdom, she will make you great. Embrace her, and she will honour you. She will place a lovely wreath on your head; she will present you with a beautiful crown.”

Proverbs 24:3-6 NLT

A house is built by wisdom and becomes strong through good sense. Through knowledge its rooms are filled with all sorts of precious riches and valuables. The wise are mightier than the strong, and those with knowledge grow stronger and stronger. So don’t go to war without wise guidance; victory depends on having many advisers.

James 1:5 NLT

If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.

4) And the greatest of these is love

By this shall all men know that you are my disciples

John 13:35

Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.”

When you’ve done everything you can just remember that love and faithfulness are the highest virtues that God is looking for in your life.

Proverbs 3:3, 4

Let love and faithfulness never leave you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart.
Then you will win favour and a good name
in the sight of God and man.

Important point for those who frequent various social media networks. The early Christians didn’t get thrown to the lions because they somehow missed the memo about loving others, they did that better than anyone else around them and we still do to this day. Whenever you find a group of people who are seriously following Jesus you will find an expression of love for others that will set them apart from everyone else around them.

Don’t be surprised when the cultural gatekeepers decide you’re not welcome at their table. In Jesus’ day the cultural gatekeepers of Jewish society were the religious leaders and they decided to crucify him. The question is, who are the cultural gatekeepers of our day. That answer can be found wherever you find the greatest opposition to the message of Jesus. Who are the ones who want to crucify the church and the followers of Jesus today?

But take heart, even if the whole world is against us, Jesus has overcome the world and in Him we can find peace. The crazy thing about this crazy world we live in is that the worse it becomes the better it will be for those who love Jesus. The difference between the way we live and the prevailing climate of the world will become more and more pronounced. We’re heading into some of the most exciting times that the church has ever experienced and there’s no reason to be worried or anxious as long as you’re holding onto Jesus’ hand. As he’s promised us, he will be with us even to the end of this age!

Those 4 keys again . . .

  1. Take responsibility for your own life
  2. Place Jesus first in every area
  3. Seek truth and wisdom
  4. Follow the way of love