The war in Ukraine and the tragedy of the suffering and devastation that threatens to spill into more of the world has many of us concerned, worried and fearful.
People are wondering if it means WW3 or even the end of the world.
What should we do?
This is a special podcast, an interruption in our reading through the Bible commentary, because I feel it is needed.
I want to give you some spiritual encouragement and practical advice from God’s Word and from
C. S. Lewis’ essay, “The World’s Last Night.”
Listen or watch and be encouraged. Our God is in control; He is a good God; and He has work for us to do as long as we remain here.
Below is the podcast, video, and notes on the topic.
Is the world about to end?
a special lesson on our currently
Teacher, Yvon Prehn, Bible805
It may not be labeled WW3, but the world is at war
• For the people of Ukraine enduring the unspeakable horrors we see every day on TV.
• For those of us who watch, pray, and I trust give all we can to support humanitarian efforts, our hearts are at war with fears for them,
• And for ourselves with the threat of nuclear annihilation hanging over the world, what if; what if this or some other disaster happens to us or those we love?
• And then of course the pandemic rages on.
In the midst of all this seemingly end of the world challenges….
• What should we do?
• This is a special podcast, an interruption in our reading through the Bible commentary, because I feel it is needed.
• I want to give you some spiritual encouragement and practical advice from God’s Word and from
C. S. Lewis’ essay, “The World’s Last Night.”
The most important thing you need to do
• Be sure you have a saving relationship with Jesus—that you have trusted Him as your personal Savior for time and eternity.
• To do that, in the most-brief descriptions is for you to simply confess you are a sinner and ask for His forgiveness and salvation.
• And be prepared to follow Him for however long He gives you life. Learn how to do that by reading your Bible.
• If you’d like a more detailed explanation of how to become a Christian and who is the Jesus who saves you, check out the podcasts or video on #84 podcast or video The Story of the Bible is Good News ….the good news of salvation in Jesus
In case you feel bad coming to God simply because you’re terrified, a foxhole prayer is just fine
• God accepts us at any time, under any circumstances
• When you are too afraid to do anything else, He welcomes you with open arms as he did the thief on the cross, who could only plead, “Remember me when you come into your Kingdom.”
• And to whom Jesus responded, “Today, you will be with me in Paradise.’
• Come to Him at any time, for salvation or simply because you are afraid.
Settling your eternal destiny is foundationally important because
• World War or not, any day could be YOUR last day.
• I almost died this last year when my heart decided to quit functioning properly. I was in the hospital when it happened and after a frantic code blue and a rescue scene similar to one from a bad movie, I was pulled back into life. Had I been home alone, I wouldn’t be writing this.
• We were on a ministry trip this last weekend and had to drive from Ventura to San Diego and back. The LA freeways terrify me and there were accidents where people did not make it home.
• The point is, we need to live always ready to face our Lord the next moment. So, when someone recently asked me how we should live with all that is going on, my first answer was, “How you should always live being ready to meet the Lord, because you could at any time, no matter what is happening in the rest of the world.”
• But these are extraordinary times and deserve a more in-depth answer.
After your eternal salvation is secured
• Back to the question, of how should we live in this particularly fearful time?
• As with every question, let’s look for an answer in God’s Word
• A good place to look is at what is called the “Olivet Discourse”, one of Jesus’s last sermons before His crucifixion.
• I’m not going into any sort of prophetic speculation because Jesus quite clearly tells his followers that NO ONE knows precisely when the final curtain will fall on this earth, but He does have some very specific advice on how we should live, no matter what is going on where he says. Matt. 24:42-50
Matthew 24:42-50, Phillips
• “You must be on the alert then, for you do not know when your master is coming. You can be sure of this, however, that if the householder had known what time of night the burglar would arrive, he would have been ready for him and would not have allowed his house to be broken into. That is why you must always be ready, for you do not know what time the Son of Man will arrive.”
• “Who then is the faithful and sensible servant whom his master put in charge of his household to give others their food at the proper time? Well, he is fortunate if his master finds him doing that duty on his return! Believe me, he will promote him to look after all his property. But if he should be a bad servant who says to himself, ‘My master takes his time about returning’, and should begin to beat his fellow-servants and eat and drink with drunkards, that servant’s master will return suddenly and unexpectedly, and will punish him severely and send him off to share the penalty of the unfaithful—to his bitter sorrow and regret!”
The most important thing we can do, no matter how crazy the world is
• As this passage shows is to keep doing what God called you to do
• There is always the temptation to think “the Master will be a long time coming” and to either
• Party in whatever way you prefer, or self-indulge in drugs, drink, or in the more socially acceptable ways in food, bingeing on social media, or shopping.
• Or perhaps to quit doing the often mundane or perhaps terribly challenging work of ministry that we have been called to do
• It can be tempting to think,
If it’s all going to be blown up tomorrow
•Why should I not just focus on myself?
• Why should I work on serving the church, or ministering to the homeless, or praying one more time about a seemingly impossible request?
• Quite honestly, that could be confusing and empty.
• And think of how foolish you would feel if you quit doing good things, sat in a corner and ate and drank and waited until the end of the world?
• It might come tomorrow or it might not come for thousands of years.
For me, it is tremendously comforting
• To simply work on my lessons, my housework, my church, and my job that supports my ministries
• I don’t know what the future will hold, but I know what I need to do right now to continue to fulfill the calling God has given me.
• I’m challenged enough trying to get the Bible805 and Effective Church Communications lessons on a consistent schedule.
• When I get panicky, I think back to the passage in Matthew where Jesus says that his servant should be faithfully working “to give others their food at the proper time” and I trust the ministries I’m called to feed those who need it spiritually. I simply put my head down and work on that.
• I’ve also found some of C.S. Lewis words helpful…
In his essay, “The World’s Last Night”
• I recommend reading it all but allow me to read and comment on some excerpts from it that I’ve found useful.
• First here is His summary on Jesus’ teaching His coming and of the World’s end…
• “His teaching on the subject quite clearly consisted of three propositions (1) that he will certainly return (2)That we cannot possibly find out when (3) And that therefore we must always be ready for him…..
• [Lewis goes on to say] precisely because we cannot predict the moment, we must be ready at all moments. . . . There will be wars and rumours of wars and all kinds of catastrophes, as there always are. Things will be, in that sense, normal, the hour before the heavens roll up like a scroll.
In that normalcy of wars and challenges
• Lewis says we are frustrated in not being able to figure out precisely what is going on because, “We think keep on assuming that we know the play. We do not even know if we are in Act I or Act V…The Author knows. . . . .That is has a meaning we may be sure, but we cannot see it. When it is over, we may be told. We are led to expect that the Author will have something to say to each of us on the part each of us has played. The playing it well is what matters infinitely.”
• To play our part in life well—what a wonderful challenge. Not to simply endure when life is challenging, but to do well in God’s eyes—that is a goal no matter how difficult our situation.
And in that meeting with the Author, Lewis goes on to say,
• “…happy are those whom it finds labouring in their vocations, whether they were merely going out to feed the pigs or laying good plans to deliver humanity a hundred years hence from some great evil. The curtain has fallen. Those pigs will never in fact be fed, the great campaign against …. Will never in fact proceed to victory. No matter; you were at your post when the Inspection came.”
• Great work can be done in the most humble of tasks, if in everything we constantly check in with our Lord and ask, Is this pleasing to you, Lord Jesus?
But what if it gets really horrible?
• It is for the people of Ukraine.
• May be for many of us—we do not know what may come.
• But in light of eternity, I’m encouraged by a scene in the movie, Paul an Apostle of Christ, where Luke was asked by a little girl in Rome, whose family was most likely soon to be captured and thrown to the lions when she asked him, “Will it hurt to die?”
• And he answered, “Yes, but only for a little while.”
• No matter what your pain emotional, physical, financial, whatever tragedy, small or large, is now or what may come, it will be for only a little while.
An equal danger—if it gets much better
• An in some ways even greater challenge (because we have more choices) is that if and when this current crisis is over that we heave a collective sigh of relief and go back to business as usual
• Whatever that might be, we should be concerned…
• That our fighting edge for the Kingdom of God will be dulled.
That our sense of readiness and expectation will fade.
But Jesus knew that would be a temptation when He warned his followers throughout time:
“But be on your guard. Don’t let the sharp edge of your expectation get dulled by parties and drinking and shopping [occupied with the problems of this life, like all the rest of the world, NLB]. Otherwise, that Day is going to take you by complete surprise, spring on you suddenly like a trap, for it’s going to come on everyone, everywhere, at once. So, whatever you do, don’t fall asleep at the wheel. Pray constantly that you will have the strength and wits to make it through everything that’s coming and end up on your feet before the Son of Man.” Luke 21:34-36 MSG
The Apostle Peter puts a similar thought this way… 2 Peter 3:10-14
•But when the Day of God’s Judgment does come, it will be unannounced, like a thief. The sky will collapse with a thunderous bang, everything disintegrating in a raging inferno, earth and all its works exposed to the scrutiny of Judgment.
• Since everything here today might well be gone tomorrow, do you see how essential it is to live a holy life? Daily expect the Day of God, eager for its arrival. The galaxies will burn up and the elements melt down that day—but we’ll hardly notice. We’ll be looking the other way, ready for the promised new heavens and the promised new earth, all landscaped with righteousness.
•So, my dear friends, since this is what you have to look forward to, do your very best to be found living at your best, in purity and peace.
This reminds me of what a friend of Dallas Willard said when he died
• That “Dallas had such a close walk with the Lord, that when he died, he probably didn’t notice.”
• What a challenge, what an example, what a prayer to live in that way.
• But most of us aren’t like that at present, we have our fear, our worries, our feeling we fall short and for that, I have one more passage from the Bible and a few concluding comments.
To close, final promises from Ps. 46
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
2 Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
. . . . 7 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge. 8 Come, behold the works of the Lord,. . .
9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;
He breaks the bow and cuts the spear in two;
He burns the chariot in the fire.
10 Be still, and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!
11 The Lord of hosts is with us;
The God of Jacob is our refuge.
I’m closing with this Psalm, not only because of the comfort of the words, but because the authorship of this Psalm is significant.
You may need to be encouraged by it if maybe you feel you somehow aren’t worthy of God’s care in trials or perhaps you have a hard time trusting God because of what may have happened to you in the past.
Ps 46 was written by “the sons of Korah” and if anyone had a bad, undeserving past, it was them.
• Their ancestry included one of the great judgements in Ex 16, when Korah, Dathan, and Abiram rebelled against Moses and the earth swallowed them up alive.
•But the line of Korah did not die out or quit in their service to God.
•The line went on to include Samuel the prophet, warriors with King David (1 Chron. 12), and finally as we see in this Psalm, songwriters praising God.
•The Sons of Korah—lived the lesson today. They experienced a great calling, after the Exodus as part of the tribe of Levi, then judgement, war, and many trials as a group, but there were those who kept on with their calling and continued to praise God no matter what the circumstances around them.
Their lives and this Psalm remind us
•Stay in God’s Word—we’ll be back on the next podcast and video going through the Bible.
• A grounding in God’s Word will give you the spiritual strength you need and will remind you as you look at how God has worked in the lives of those before you—
• That no matter what has happened to you in the past, no matter what the challenges you face today or tomorrow—keep your eyes on Jesus; do your best in what He has called you to do, in big or small things.
•Because someday, the challenges will be over, and it will be abundantly worth it.
That’s all for now
Please check out the lesson notes and other materials at www.bible805.com
Until next time, I’m Yvon Prehn, your fellow pilgrim, writer and teacher for Jesus.
I’d like to close with this benediction:
May you know the invitation of God, to move
-from confusion to clarity
-from wandering to rest
-from loneliness to knowing you are loved
-from turmoil to peace
From wherever you are on your spiritual journey to a growing knowledge of God’s Word and in your personal relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Amen