Overcoming the Problem of Cold Love

Daily Devotional: Day 181

“And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold. But he who endures to the end shall be saved” (Matthew 24:12-13, NKJV).

Have you been in a relationship with someone (maybe a friend, a fiancé or a spouse) and you noticed that your love him or her love for you was growing cold? In modern parlance, we call it growing apart. Physically, you may be in the same place, even running into each other often; yet you sense that your relationship is not where it is supposed to be.

According to the online Cambridge Dictionary, “If two people in a close relationship grow apart, or if they grow away from each other, they gradually begin to have a less close relationship, usually because they no longer have the same interests and want the same things” (https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/grow-apart).

Today’s passage is part of Matthew’s account of Jesus’ prophecies about signs of the end times (Matthew 24:1-51). Remember, we’ve been in the end times at least since the Day of Pentecost. Jesus says that one sign to look for in the end times is that lawlessness will abound, and the love of many will grow cold. Lawlessness simply means the breaking of God’s commandments or sinfulness. But Jesus adds, “he who endures to the end shall be saved.” This means the one whose love for Jesus remains fervent to the end, he shall be saved. In John 14:15, Jesus said the way to show your love for Him is to keep His commandments. Therefore, those who endure to the end and are saved, are those who remain faithful to the Lord’s commandments to the end. For Jesus, the only acceptable love is fervent love, not cold love. You can probably relate to that.

Furthermore, notice that Jesus says, “the love of many will grow cold.” He didn’t say, “the love of a few will grow cold.” Therefore, Jesus isn’t anticipating a great worldwide revival where most people are going to be on ‘fire’ (figuratively) for the Lord. The opposite will happen; in fact, it is already happening.

Who are the people Jesus is referring to when he says their love will grow cold? They are people (Christians, believers) who at some point loved the Lord fervently and kept His commandments. But later, due to lawlessness (i.e. transgressing God’s law), their love for Jesus gradually grows cold. In other words, they and the Lord grow apart. It takes two to have a working relationship. If the two parties have different interests or want different things, the relationship will eventually grind to a halt. It happens in marriages and friendships. Our relationship with Jesus is no different.

Let’s be thankful for the prophetic warning of Jesus. As the saying goes, “Forewarned is forearmed.” Let’s watch our love.

The peace of the Lord be with you today! Amen.

For further study: Revelation 2:1-7

Bible Prophecy about Self-Love in the Last Days

Daily Devotional: Day 160

“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” (2 Timothy 3:1-2, NASB).

We’ve been living in the last days since Jesus ushered in a new generation with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit (cf. Acts 2:14-21). The last days is a long period stretching from Pentecost to the Last Day when Jesus shall return to judge the living and the dead. During this ‘last days’ period, the Bible gives us prophecies regarding specific events that will occur. Some of these events have happened; others are happening now; and still others are yet to happen.

In 2 Timothy 3:1-5, Paul predicts nineteen (19) specific moral traits that will be characteristic of people during the last days. At the end of the list, Paul cautions Timothy to avoid such people. Today, we will focus solely on the first trait: “men will be lovers of self.” Before we continue, let’s note that before Jesus came, people were showing these traits. However, Paul’s prophecy is signaling that these traits will become so pronounced, prevalent and so obvious that it will be impossible to miss or deny; not only that, the context also suggests that this trend is not expected to improve until Jesus returns.

Paul’s prophecy is unfolding before our very eyes with breathtaking accuracy. We are ‘officially’ in the age of self-love and self-worship. We have a new religion, and the god of this religion is SELF (me). The temple is me; the high priest of the religion is also me. Membership in the religion is restricted to one person, me. You’ll find this self-worship in nearly all facets of life.

Social media has become the ideal platform for self-glorification and vanity. Moreover, the emergence of SELFIE is a much welcome technology for lovers of self. With it, it’s easier now for people to pose from anywhere and flaunt their flesh for the world to admire, like and praise their looks. Adults and young people alike are caught up in it. Adults are behaving like kids, and kids are behaving like adults. Desperate for affirmation, some social media users, for example, will like their own post or post things like, “I love me,” “Happy Birthday to me,” etc. Self-centered worship has even crept into our churches. Our preaching is becoming more about self-improvement and self-realization; how to unleash the best you. Prayers and songs are tailored to fit this line of messaging with an emphasis on positive “I am” declarations.

We are even seeing a trend toward sologamy, i.e. self-marriage. Yes, people are marrying solo. It’s not legally recognized, yet. But make no mistake; the legalization of every lifestyle begins with the first step. If you’d like to find out more about this phenomenon, click here to see a news report about it.

We can understand why Jesus said, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me” (Mark 8:34). Bible prophecies are meant to instruct, warn and encourage us, so that we can watch and pray, and not be overcome by the snares of satan. A major obstacle between us and Jesus is our self. Let’s die to self and embrace the freedom in living for the glory of Christ alone.

The grace of our Lord be with you today. Amen.

For further study: Galatians 2:20

A Home in Heaven, Prepared by Jesus

Daily Devotional: Day 146

“In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3, NKJV).

That some people are without a regular and fixed place they can call home is a distressful social phenomenon. From apartments and condominiums to town-houses and single-family homes, millions of people around the world must work hard to keep a roof over their heads. Paying your bills on time will ensure that you don’t end up homeless. Your survival depends on it. But, not everyone is fortunate. According to statistics from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “there were roughly 554,000 homeless people living somewhere in the United States on a given night last year [2017]. A total of 193,000 of those people were ‘unsheltered,’ meaning that they were living on the streets . . .” (http://thedataface.com/2018/01/public-health/american-homelessness).

While we’re on earth, we must do what we can to provide a home for ourselves and help others find a home, too. For us Christians, we know that this world is not our final destination. Heaven is our eternal home. And, Jesus assures us in today’s Bible passage that there is enough room in His Father’s house for everyone of His followers. This is a message of great hope and consolation. Jesus has not forgotten us. He promises to come back for us so that we will be where He is.

Notice that we are not the ones to prepare the home is heaven. Jesus Himself does the preparation. You can, therefore, be sure that your home in heave will look awesome. This is blessed hope for all who follow Christ as their Lord and Savior.

As you go about your daily business, don’t forget that you have a home in heaven, a home prepared by Jesus Himself. Strengthen yourself with these precious promises (cf. 2 Peter 1:3-4). Here’s what you need to know about the home Jesus has prepared for you: no homelessness, no rent, no landlord issues, no fear of eviction, no mortgage problems, no credit history issues, no bills, no taxes; a home made in heaven, just for you. Jesus can’t wait to welcome you and show you around your true home. No matter what happens here on earth, let not your heart be troubled. Prepare for your best life. Prepare to meet Jesus. It will be awesome!

May the Lord bless and keep you today! Amen.

For further study: Revelation 21:9-27

End Times: False Christs and Prophets

Daily Devotional: Day 93

“Then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘There!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand” (Matthew 24:23-25, NKJV).

The biggest threat to Christianity today is the spread of false doctrines. False doctrines have been around since Genesis chapter 3. We find it throughout the history of the Church. Today, however, the phenomenon of false teachings has reached epidemic proportions, and there is no sign that the trend will change anytime soon. That shouldn’t surprise us. As you can see from today’s Scripture reading, Jesus prophesied that this will happen. Jesus was addressing the nature of his Second Coming and the events that will precede it.

Some of the events prophesied by Jesus have already been fulfilled, for example, the destruction of the Jewish Temple in AD 70 by Titus, son of the Roman Emperor Vespasian (AD 69 to AD 79). Jesus predicted other events that have been progressively fulfilled throughout Church history, and other events will happen in the future. It is beyond the scope of this devotional to get into all the details. God willing, in the future, we shall study these prophecies one by one.

For today, let’s focus on Jesus’ prophecy that many false christs and false prophets will arise. Notice that Jesus did not name names. He wants us to use His words as tools for spotting the false christs and false prophets in our midst. Jesus added that these false servants of God will demonstrate great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect, i.e. born-again believers. This prediction is being fulfilled before our very eyes.

What do false christs and false prophets have in common? False doctrines. And what are false doctrines? Teachings which contradict the Bible. At times these false teachings are subtle and therefore not easy to spot because they are nicely wrapped in Bible terminology.  It may take careful study and prayerful discernment to uncover the deception that lies beneath.

Jesus wants us all to pay attention to His end time prophecy. Being able to spot false christs and false prophets will help you to protect yourself, your friends, your family, and perhaps your fellow church members from spiritual contamination. 

False doctrines are like yoghurt. They come in different flavors, but it’s false nonetheless and they all have one effect: deception. For your convenience, here are  a few of the major flavors and sources of false doctrines that have greatly influenced Christianity in the past and even now: GnosticismRome’s Papacy, The Ecumenical MovementThe Emergent/Convergent Church, and The New Apostolic ReformationThe sources of these false doctrines are from diverse Christian traditions namely, Charismatic/Pentecostal, Protestant/Evangelical, and Roman Catholic.  

May the Lord bless you, and may His Holy Spirit guide you always and establish your faith on the solid ground of biblical truth. Amen.

For further study: Matthew chapter 24

Time To Wake Up

Daily Devotional: Day 64

“Watch therefore – for you do not know when the master of the house will come, in the evening, or at midnight, or at cockcrow, or in the morning – lest he come suddenly and find you asleep. And what I say to you I say to all: Watch” (Mark 13:35-37, RSV).

Jesus shall surely return to judge the living and the dead, and inaugurate a new heaven and a new earth. Throughout the Bible, he has given us clear signs to look for, indicating that his coming is near. He gave us these signs because he loves us and doesn’t want to find us unprepared. Staying awake is, therefore, part of being a Christian. Today’s Bible text is taken from an extended passage in which Jesus instructs his disciples about what to expect regarding the end of this world and the ushering in of the new heaven and new earth. After giving them details about signs of the end, he commands them to watch. Note what Jesus says at the end: “And what I say to you I say to all: Watch.” This means that the message he gave to the disciples is addressed to us also. And the keyword is watch. I looked up the verb “to watch” in Google and this is the definition it gave, “look at or observe attentively, typically over a period of time.” This means Jesus wants you to be attentive, alert and vigilant, carefully observing the signs of the times, so that you can discern their implication for the end times.

Jesus’ return will be sudden. How do you stay awake and keep watch? The “sleep” Jesus speaks about is a metaphor. It refers to the state of mind where people go about their normal lives without paying attention to the events occurring around them. It further refers to people’s inability to interpret the signs of the times in light of the Scriptures. Due to this inability, many people shall be caught off guard by the Second Coming of Christ. But God wants his children, Christians, to heed the words of Jesus. He wants us to pray and be spiritually sensitive to our environment. We live in world where many people are distracted by the cares of life, the obsession and fascination with electronic devises, and the glamor of entertainment; in addition to the increasing attack on Jesus, the Church, and the Bible. This development has made it even harder for Christians to be spiritually vigilant and alert. But today, God wants you to examine your state of readiness for the return of Christ. Study the Bible and look out for the signs of the end times. Stay awake and be ready to greet Jesus when he appears suddenly.

Prayer:

Dear Father, thank you for giving us the signs of the end times. Dispel every darkness from my life. Enable me to watch and be ready to welcome your Son anytime he appears. In the Name of Jesus. Amen.

For further study: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-28