Living in the Last Days? Go in Faith Until He Comes

Notes from a sermon preached by Dr. Greg Sloop, Lead Pastor of the Kannapolis Church of God, during their Sunday Morning Worship Service on October 8, 2017 at 10:30 am. Sermon may be viewed or heard at http://www.kcog.org.  

Matthew 24:1 Then Jesus went out and departed from the temple, and His disciples came up to show Him the buildings of the temple. 2 And Jesus said to them, “Do you not see all these things? Assuredly, I say to you, not one stone shall be left here upon another, that shall not be thrown down.” 3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?” 4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many. 6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.  7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows 9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. 11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. 13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. (NKJV)

??Questions??

3 Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives, the disciples came to Him privately, saying, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age?”

Signs of the Times:  Antichrist

4 And Jesus answered and said to them: “Take heed that no one deceives you. 5 For many will come in My name, saying, ‘I am the Christ,’ and will deceive many.

Signs of the Times: Wars & Death

6 And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 7 For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom.

Signs of the Times: Natural Disasters

And there will be famines, pestilences, and earthquakes in various places. 8 All these are the beginning of sorrows.

Signs of the Times: Persecution

9 “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake. 10 And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

http://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2017/january/top-50-countries-christian-persecution-world-watch-list.html

Signs of the Times: Apostacy

11 Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many. 12 And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.

The Call to Perseverance

13 But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.

Takeaway Thoughts

We wonder when Jesus will come again
The Signs of the Time are Provided for all of us
Persevere and Be Ready When He Comes

The Conclusion of the Matter

Ecclesiastes 12:9–14 (NKJV)

9 And moreover, because the Preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yes, he pondered and sought out and set in order many proverbs. 10 The Preacher sought to find acceptable words; and what was written was upright—words of truth. 11 The words of the wise are like goads, and the words of scholars are like well-driven nails, given by one Shepherd. 12 And further, my son, be admonished by these. Of making many books there is no end, and much study is wearisome to the flesh.
13 Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter:

Fear God and keep His commandments,
For this is man’s all.
14 For God will bring every work into judgment,
Including every secret thing,
Whether good or evil.

This summary passage speaks of Solomon’s great knowledge and wisdom, and his continued pursuit of truth and wisdom.  In his pursuit, he founded and offered to others the teachings of one Great Shepherd.  The reader is admonished to heed and abide by this wisdom.  However, one great truth overrides all wisdom: Fear God and keep His commandments.  God will one day judge us all.  Therefore, fearing Him and obeying Him is the only way to find peace and reward in that day.  Love and fear God.  Live with Him and live for Him.  This is wise path to peace!

Remember Your Creator

Ecclesiastes 11:9–12:8 (NKJV)

11:9 Rejoice, O young man, in your youth,
And let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth;
Walk in the ways of your heart,
And in the sight of your eyes;
But know that for all these
God will bring you into judgment.
10 Therefore remove sorrow from your heart,
And put away evil from your flesh,
For childhood and youth are vanity.

12:1 Remember now your Creator in the days of your youth,
Before the difficult days come,
And the years draw near when you say,
“I have no pleasure in them”:
2 While the sun and the light,
The moon and the stars,
Are not darkened,
And the clouds do not return after the rain;
3 In the day when the keepers of the house tremble,
And the strong men bow down;
When the grinders cease because they are few,
And those that look through the windows grow dim;
4 When the doors are shut in the streets,
And the sound of grinding is low;
When one rises up at the sound of a bird,
And all the daughters of music are brought low.
5 Also they are afraid of height,
And of terrors in the way;
When the almond tree blossoms,
The grasshopper is a burden,
And desire fails.
For man goes to his eternal home,
And the mourners go about the streets.

6 Remember your Creator before the silver cord is loosed,
Or the golden bowl is broken,
Or the pitcher shattered at the fountain,
Or the wheel broken at the well.
7 Then the dust will return to the earth as it was,
And the spirit will return to God who gave it.

8 “Vanity of vanities,” says the Preacher,
“All is vanity.”

Solomon begins this section of Scripture by encouraging young people to be happy, but to also have discretion in their actions.  Unwise youthful actions can lead to the judgement of God.

Therefore, the Preacher instructs the young to remember their Creator.  There will come days when joy is gone and music fades.  Work will become hard and eventually life ends.  Then, it is too late to rejoice in God.  Then, the mourners go through the streets in your honor.

The imagery in verses 6 and 7 is very poignant, describing the end of life as the silver cord being loosed, the golden bowl broken, etc.  This imagery is used even in a poem often quoted at military funerals.  Solomon tells the reader to remember God, his Creator, before it is too late, before life ends.  All is vanity, but walking through this vain life with God is always better than walking it alone.  Walk with God, remember God in your youth and in your life, before death comes!

Cast Your Bread Upon the Waters

Ecclesiastes 11:1–8 (NKJV)

11:1 Cast your bread upon the waters,
For you will find it after many days.
2 Give a serving to seven, and also to eight,
For you do not know what evil will be on the earth.

3 If the clouds are full of rain,
They empty themselves upon the earth;
And if a tree falls to the south or the north,
In the place where the tree falls, there it shall lie.
4 He who observes the wind will not sow,
And he who regards the clouds will not reap.

5 As you do not know what is the way of the wind,
Or how the bones grow in the womb of her who is with child,
So you do not know the works of God who makes everything.
6 In the morning sow your seed,
And in the evening do not withhold your hand;
For you do not know which will prosper,
Either this or that,
Or whether both alike will be good.

7 Truly the light is sweet,
And it is pleasant for the eyes to behold the sun;
8 But if a man lives many years
And rejoices in them all,
Yet let him remember the days of darkness,
For they will be many.
All that is coming is vanity.

This section of chapter 11 is full of proverbial sayings that Solomon heaps upon one another almost without connection, it may seem.  However, there is an over-arching theme that is at work here.  The Preacher is speaking to the need to take risks and work hard in spite of what you may see before you.  In the end, the work will pay off if you work for the Lord, for He rewards the diligent and wise.  Even if some venture does not succeed or pay off, it is worth the effort.  The dark days still teach us the power of God to sustain.  So whatever we do, whether sowing, giving, having children, or any other investment or risk, do it anyway, because God is the giver of increase and the giver of lack, and our faith is built in Him!

Sharpen Your Ax

Ecclesiastes 10:8–20 (NKJV)

8 He who digs a pit will fall into it,
And whoever breaks through a wall will be bitten by a serpent.
9 He who quarries stones may be hurt by them,
And he who splits wood may be endangered by it.
10 If the ax is dull,
And one does not sharpen the edge,
Then he must use more strength;
But wisdom brings success.

11 A serpent may bite when it is not charmed;
The babbler is no different.
12 The words of a wise man’s mouth are gracious,
But the lips of a fool shall swallow him up;
13 The words of his mouth begin with foolishness,
And the end of his talk is raving madness.
14 A fool also multiplies words.
No man knows what is to be;
Who can tell him what will be after him?
15 The labor of fools wearies them,
For they do not even know how to go to the city!

16 Woe to you, O land, when your king is a child,
And your princes feast in the morning!
17 Blessed are you, O land, when your king is the son of nobles,
And your princes feast at the proper time—
For strength and not for drunkenness!
18 Because of laziness the building decays,
And through idleness of hands the house leaks.
19 A feast is made for laughter,
And wine makes merry;
But money answers everything.

20 Do not curse the king, even in your thought;
Do not curse the rich, even in your bedroom;
For a bird of the air may carry your voice,
And a bird in flight may tell the matter.

Be careful and be prepared for dangers and weariness.  The Preacher warns against carelessness on all fronts.  The imagery that demonstrates this the most visibly is the dull ax.  Using a dull ax makes the job longer and harder.  In every area of life, sharpen your ax so that you can cut through the work at hand more easily and more efficiently!  You sharpen your ax in many ways by acquiring wisdom.

Solomon also compares a foolish babbler to a snake.  If he is not tamed, he may bite.  The fool may harm you if he is not stopped.  Fools think they know the path of events to come, but really are just uninformed weak thinkers.  Don’t follow them over the cliff!

The writer then speaks of the need for leaders–in this case of a nation–to be mature, full of integrity, and wise.  When your leadership is lazy, childish, or careless, your nation (church, home, company) will not succeed.  Put feasting and wine away and work hard and smart.

Finally, the reader is told to keep his or her thought life pure, and to not curse the king or the rich, for it may be carried to the wrong ears and cause you trouble.  Sharpen your ax!

Reputation and Relationship

Ecclesiastes 10:1–7 (NKJV)

10 Dead flies putrefy the perfumer’s ointment,
And cause it to give off a foul odor;
So does a little folly to one respected for wisdom and honor.
2 A wise man’s heart is at his right hand,
But a fool’s heart at his left.
3 Even when a fool walks along the way,
He lacks wisdom,
And he shows everyone that he is a fool.
4 If the spirit of the ruler rises against you,
Do not leave your post;
For conciliation pacifies great offenses.

5 There is an evil I have seen under the sun,
As an error proceeding from the ruler:
6 Folly is set in great dignity,
While the rich sit in a lowly place.
7 I have seen servants on horses,
While princes walk on the ground like servants.

Think of how disgusting it would be to open a bottle of perfume and see a dead fly.  You would take the product back where you bought it and ask for a refund.  The product may generally smell good and have a great deal of value, but the fly makes it unacceptable and disgusting.  Respected people need to keep the flies out of their ointment and guard their reputation.  A wise man keeps his heart in the right place, and uses wisdom.  When opposition arises, stay the course, for wisdom will prevail and reconciliation will come.  A disgusting sight is to see a ruler making foolish mistakes, for folly to be set on a throne and for true leaders and dignified people to be in lowly places.  Raise up the rulers that God intends to serve and support them. This does not mean that those from meager beginnings and without great opportunity cannot learn and become great.  One’s beginning does not determine their end.  However, foolish and unmotivated people will not rise above their true weakness.  Be wise, not foolish.  Remember, the fool denies the existence of the true God. Let the fools walk and let the true princes ride on steeds of honor.  Then, God’s will may be done!

Going Home

2 Corinthians 5:6–8

Notes from a sermon preached by Dr. Greg Sloop, Lead Pastor of the Kannapolis Church of God, during their Sunday Morning Worship Service on September 24, 2017 at 10:30 am.  Sermon may be viewed or heard at http://www.kcog.org. 

Home Can Sometimes Be a Place of Pain

Matthew 8:5–7 (NKJV)
5 Now when Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, 6 saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed, dreadfully tormented.” 7 And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”

Home is Where You Testify of the Goodness of God

Mark 5:19 (NKJV)
19 However, Jesus did not permit him, but said to him, “Go home to your friends, and tell them what great things the Lord has done for you, and how He has had compassion on you.”

Home is Where You Rejoice

Luke 15:6 (NKJV)
6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’

Home is Where God Should Dwell

John 14:23 (NKJV)
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.

Home is Where You Can Find Food

1 Corinthians 11:34 (NKJV)
34 But if anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, lest you come together for judgment. And the rest I will set in order when I come.

Home is the Presence of the Lord (Now and Eternally)

2 Corinthians 5:6–8 (NKJV)
6 So we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. 7 For we walk by faith, not by sight. 8 We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord.

Takeaway Thoughts

To be at home in this world is sad and uncertain
God’s presence is Home for the believer, now and forever
Seek the grace of God to go Home!