Sixty Vegas country concert-goers were mowed down by war weaponry operated from a nearby hotel. The crowd scattered as bullets sprayed. Over 500 were injured. Some maimed.
I found the news the following morning. My first response? Another shooting. Time for coffee.
My apathy shocked me. I had grown old. At 40, my response to a massacre crossed from childlike sadness to aged acceptance.
But how do we stay young when bad news levels us like ocean waves? When we get up only to get beat down again?
How can Jesus insist on our joy (1 Thes 5:16)? How can we be happy when
…everyone is vicious on social media
…it’s every man for himself
…life is paying bills and not much more
…you may get killed listening to live music?
How on earth can we be hopeful facing these circumstances?
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1. Christ-followers needn’t fear death. Or anything else.
Gun sales spiked after the Vegas shooting. People said, “Going to the range today. Gonna defend myself if necessary.”
But will a handgun protect you in a Vegas situation? No. You may possess a bajillion doomsday bunkers, rifles, and survival skills. But you’ll never be completely safe. Don’t hide under New Zealand. Or freeze yourself until 2126.
As a Christ-follower, you needn’t fear the gunman. Or ISIS. Or Marilyn Manson. When you got saved, you gained the ability to saunter through a war zone. No duck and cover necessary.
Fear of death? No way. By God’s unspeakable grace, you’ll be admitted Heavenly entrance should the worst happen. (2 Cor 5:6-8) God says your eternity is secure if you’re saved (Eph 4:30; John 3:15-16).
We must grasp that it’s impossible to make ourselves righteous. Instead, we need to depend on the sacrifice Jesus made on our behalf. When we trust in Christ as our Savior, God the Father applies the benefit of Jesus’ atoning sacrifice to our sin debt, thereby making us saved—that is, acceptable in His eyes.
No matter what you have done, you can be cleansed of the stain left by sin. Confess any known transgressions to the Lord and turn from them. Then Jesus will forgive you and write your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life (1 John 1:9; Revelation 21:27). By trusting in Him, you are assured of eternity in His presence.
– Dr. Charles Stanley, In Touch Ministries
2. This is as bad as it gets.
Viktor Frankl survived the Holocaust. Almost his entire family was killed in concentration camps and he endured horrifying circumstances. Yet in his memoir years later, he wrote:
Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.
In awful circumstances, we choose perspective.
Picture the worst time in your life. Remember how you felt, what you went through. Then understand: if you’re a Christ-follower, that’s the worst you’ll experience.
Say it gets worse. Maybe Christ-followers are sucked to Heaven. You missed the Rapture. Now comes horrible historical times. Asteroid collisions, starvation, and you’re hunted. There’s only dialup and flip phones.
That’s bad. But it’s the worst you’ll experience if you’re a Christ-follower.
As believers, we’re doing time. Sometimes everything’s great; sometimes not. But when it’s over, we’ve won.
It’s why God said these momentary afflictions prepare us for Heaven. Our lives are transient. Eternity counts. (2 Cor 4:17-18)
The Church is the most blessed group. Our sins, though many, are forgiven (Isaiah 43:25; Matt 26:18). Nothing separates us from God (Romans 8:31-39). Heaven’s our inheritance (Matt 25:34), but we’re woefully unworthy (Romans 3:23). We’re well-held (John 10:28-29). No matter where we wander, we’re tethered to God, the immovable Rock (Psalm 139:7-10).
Our birthright. No fire can steal it. No bullet can wound it.
Christ-followers have a birthright. No fire can steal it. No bullet can wound it.
– Diane Watt, Scripture SeedsTweet
3. You’re here for a purpose. Then you go Home.
In my first corporate job, I was laid off two days before Christmas. I didn’t know. The day prior, I’d relinquished my paycheck for a carload of Elmo and Barney toys. I had $2.67 in my pocket when I got the news.
In hindsight, I recognize the major sign: weeks prior, my boss stopped assigning me work. A dwindling job queue should have motivated me to dust off my pants suit. Once my work was done, security paraded me through the halls and out the door. I detected the envy in other inmates’ eyes.
I was a temp and had only worked there a few months. Later, I understood my purpose: complete some major assignments. Then be gone.
Same with Christ-followers. God has a reason for your existence. Perhaps your job is to
…disciple your family
…serve others in hospitality
…start and lead a church
…be nice on social media
It’s why God said of King David, “Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep.” (Acts 13:36a)
God has a job for you. (Eph 2:10) Once completed, you’re done. Hallelujah, we’re not random dust particles. Praise God our end game isn’t to collect all we can. That’s blessed news, and fuel in my tank to serve another day.
Hallelujah, Christ-followers aren’t random dust particles. Our end game isn’t to collect all we can.
– Diane Watt, Scripture SeedsTweet
The Apostle Paul was on house arrest. He wrestled between two choices: (1) die and be with the Lord, or (2) live and serve. He desired choice #1. But choice #2 was also good (Phil 1:21-22). Same with us.
4. Jesus’ return is near.
Walmart’s selling Christmas gear. Hobby Lobby smells like pine needles and cinnamon. The holidays are upon us.
When signs of Christmas pop up, Thanksgiving is near.
In the same way, increased hate signals Christ’s return. Jesus described end times: many would betray and hate. Lawlessness would increase. The love of most would grow cold. (Matt 24:10-12)
He portrayed end-times folks as
…and other bad qualities. (2 Tim 3:1-5)
These days, walking in love grows difficult under a rising mountain of insults and spite. Many’s strength is failing. Kind people dismiss themselves from social media. Trolls rule.
Even Christ-followers are becoming guarded, selfish, and coarse. Many wonder why we should be kind since no one else seems to be.
Over a week, about forty of my social media friends deleted their accounts. Their explanation? “I can’t anymore. All I see is rudeness and name-calling.” I haven’t seen them since.
To the Christ-follower, Jesus’ return is a winning Lotto ticket. One day we’ll be living life. Then everything will change. In the twinkling of an eye, we’ll be with the Lord (1 Cor 15:52). No death required. No waiting on other believers. Our work will be judged and rewarded (or not) (1 Cor 3:13). No more sadness, death, mourning, or pain (Rev 21:4). Grave earthly concerns will seem trivial, if remembered at all.
As a Christ-follower, your redemption is near.
To the Christ-follower, Jesus’ return is a winning Lotto ticket.
– Diane Watt, Scripture SeedsTweet
Has our cynicism overtaken hope and joy? Can we trust the Father after all that’s happened to us?
We’re still here. There’s still time.
So crack your hard heart. Peel back your protective skin and dare to feel. Serve. Give. I’ll do the same.
Jesus had been traveling with His disciples when He asked them, “Who do you think I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Son of God.”
Jesus said, “You’re right! God revealed that to you. And on this truth I’ll build My Church.”
Then He said: “And not even the gates of Hell can stand against My Church.”
Friend, He was talking about us. In hatred’s midst, we stand. No power of Hell can shake us. The Devil won’t take us. We’re Christ’s victors, and until you’re done, stand.
Diane Watt teaches the Word. A perpetual student of God, she seeks excellence for King Jesus. She’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You may also contact her. Join her to prepare for the Coming King!
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