New Hope Notes
Pastor Wayne Cordeiro
Things are always changing; life is always changing. Some changes are harmless and all we need to do is adapt or adjust, but what do we when morality loosens, families decline, and things are going from bad to worse? What do we do then? People tend to just throw out the old for the new but how should those who represent Christ live? Our three options are to: (1) give up, (2) choose to blend in, or (2) get stronger in our faith and be more like Jesus.
God makes no mistakes including when He puts each and every one of us on this earth. For some reason, He decided to put you and me on this earth now – during these last days. We are in the last chapter of this world though we do not know (no one does) exactly when the end will come however God has put us on the earth in these times. Why? Why is He asking us to run anchor?
Because times are going to be changing a lot more, we need to know how to conduct ourselves during changing times. The goal of today’s service is to remind us of what our time on this earth is for so that we can decide how to conduct ourselves in these last days…
“But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power.” (2 Tim 3:1-5)
These are the characteristics of the end-times. In these last days, the lines between right and wrong are blurred and morality will decrease. God is going to do a lot of shaking of this world and those without a strong root system or grounding will be unsettled.
THERE WILL BE A SHAKING.
“When God spoke from
During these times, there will be no neutrality – the bad will get worse but…the good will get better. What group will you choose to be in? The good news is: you get to choose.
The trick is to be steadfast without being belligerent, teachable without being gullible, courageous without sounding arrogant and righteous without being self-righteous. In today’s service, we will be talking about three choices that I would ask you to make in these unsettling last days. The first choice is…
1. CHOOSE THIS
You will be tested. It’s not a question of if you’ll be tested but rather when you’ll be tested. With that in mind, let me encourage you to make your choice before the test comes. Make your choice today because if you wait until the test comes, it’ll be too late – you’ll fail. Times will come when you’ll need to make a choice that is pleasing to the crowd or pleasing to Christ. There will be no neutrality and unless you declare your choice up front, the decision will not be yours.
Consider the events of
Let me say this: The Devil will no more respect your neutrality than the Nazis did
People generally know that Christ is one side and that the Devil is on the other, but the mistake they often make is in that there’s a DMZ – neutral or safe zone – between the two. So, if they crossover, out of Christ’s territory into what they think is a safe, neutral zone. They think that as long as they don’t crossover a second line, a line that is clearly within the Devil’s territory, that they are safe. But the reality is that the second line doesn’t really exist and there’s no neutral territory. The reality is that when they cross out of Christ’s defined territory, they’re stepping into the Devil’s zone.
This is what God had to say about the times that we’re in:
“At that time many will fall away and will betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will arise and mislead many. Because lawlessness is increased, most people’s love will grow cold.” (Matt 24:10-12)
So your first choice is to choose whom you will follow, without breaking the stance that we should be taking. We must be pillars and supporters of the truth.
There’s a story of a family of a Christian Mom, a doubting critical Dad, and an eight-year-old daughter. The Mom would go to church each Sunday and the Dad would often criticize and belittle the mother’s faith. The daughter would go to church with the Mom but she would always hear her Dad’s berating comments. Then one day, when the daughter was about 10-years-old, she was diagnosed with leukemia and laying in her death bed in the hospital. As she lay in her bed, holding her Dad’s, she turned to him and said, “Dad, I have to know…is there a God and heaven? I go to church and hear that there is a God and He loves me but I also hear what you tell Mom that there is no God. Which is it? I really need to know.”
In the end times, the middle ground shrinks and there will be no neutral ground. You must choose. Which will you choose? The first choice you need to make is to choose
2. CHOOSE THE POSTURE YOU WILL TAKE.
When you choose to serve God, what kind of attitude or posture are you going to take? Ephesians 4:15 urges us, “But speaking the truth in love…” Love does not speak out of ignorance and intolerance. He doesn’t want us to be enforcers but ushers into His Kingdom.
The reason the posture we take is so important is because we don’t live in Christian times anymore. This is a post-Christian era. We live in
So what should our posture be? We all know John says, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” But do you know John 3:17, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him”?
We can get on a crusade against prostitutes, gamblers, or gays but this passage reminds us to follow Jesus’ footsteps, and not to judge the world but rather to be an example. It may help to think of it this way: A prisoner’s biggest problem is not being in prison but rather being separated from God. Similarly with homosexuals, the problem is not so much their lifestyle as it is their separation from Christ.
Sometimes as Christians, we focus on the wrong thing. It’s like we show up at a car crash and there’s a man stuck in the car bleeding and dying. As we approach the car, we smell alcohol and we tell the victim, “You know what your problem is, it’s alcohol. You have an alcohol problem.” Well that may be true but that’s not the main problem, and if we don’t focus on the right thing, we’re not going to be of much help to him.
A while ago I was visiting with folks at
“This is the judgment, that…men loved the darkness rather than the Light. For everyone who doe evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed.” (John 3:19-20)
Here’s one of the problems that causes Christians to be defamed: you need to be okay with not being popular. People need to see us as buoys or lights to find their way home. We need to do our best to snatch others from the fire. Jude 22-23 says, “And you must show mercy to those whose faith is wavering. Rescue others by snatching them from the flames of judgment. Show mercy to still others, but do so with great caution, hating the sins that contaminate their lives.” God is telling us to watch the posture we’re taking in trying to reach people because we won’t win anyone over by berating them; however, we must also be careful not to get caught up in their sin as well.
“…prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world.” (Phi 2:15)
Some may it’s not possible but think of it this way: Fish live in salt water their whole life but none of it [the salt] gets on the inside. We need to live that way: to live among this world but not in it. You can be one with them without being one of them. In fact, as Christians, we need to be interact with them otherwise we’d be like physicians who refuse to perform surgery on people because we’re afraid we’re going to catch something they’ve got!
We need to stand for Christ among them without becoming one of them. We need to be buoys in a darkened ocean. We need to stand so others can see us and find their way home. So the second choice we need to make is to choose the posture we take. Then the last choice we need to make is…
3. HOW WILL YOU RESPOND WHEN TESTED?
You will be tested…what will you do? Will you buckle or stand strong? Even though the world will be shaking, we need to stand steady. We need to stand for truth. And though it may not be a popular stance, we aren’t standing against things so much as we are standing for truth. In these last days, stay stalwart and don’t forget for what you stand for, “They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.” (Luke 12:53)
These are difficult times, things are changing and we will be tested. Before we are faced with those tests, it is imperative that we make three choices: (1) who you will serve, (2) the posture you will take (so you are ushering people to Christ in truth and love) and lastly (3) how you will respond when tested. Remember who you are and what you are doing here…
1. What situations or issues are you aware of that God is shaking?
2. Who are you chosen to serve? How are you making your choice known?
3. What posture have you taken on an issue that hasn’t been ushering people to God? How can you change your posture to lead people to Christ?
4. Tell of a time when you’ve been tested and how you did. How would you change things next time or what would you suggest to someone else who may face the same test?
5. What have you learned today and how has that made you different?