History has a way of repeating itself. And, throughout history collective societies have repeatedly destroyed themselves … most often from the decay within. This pattern of decline can be easily charted and clearly observed and yet each generation in every nation continues marching towards their own self-destruction.
Yet there is hope in this generation! His name is Jesus … and we have His Word to save us.
Before we go further allow me to delineate The Pattern of Decline. What is:
· Personally Worshipped
· Socially Acceptable
· Spiritually Tolerated
· Federally Funded
It all begins with us as individuals and our personal acceptance of a recognized departure from God’s unchanging will.
Last week, in honor of Veteran’s Day, we reviewed the US Military Code of Conduct and heard what it takes to be an American Soldier. Afterwards I read a document I wrote which paralleled the US Military Code of Conduct and I offered it to you as our COTR Code of Conduct.
Since last Sunday I have heard from so many of you concerning that Code. In response to your request we are going to find a way to make it available to you and others as a reminder of what it takes to be a Soldier of the Cross.
I realize that you already know these things but I feel compelled of the Lord to remind us all of our personal responsibilities to Christ. The god of this world, who is the prince of darkness, is continually pressing us to accept new social norms, be more tolerant of alternate lifestyles, and relax our Christian beliefs to embrace a new world order religion of personal choices and an “anything goes” mentality.
However, this has never worked anywhere at any time in history and it won’t work today. Jesus is our only hope and He is depending on us to be salt and light in this world so that others will come to know His love.
Therefore, I will always remind you about these things—even though you already know them and are standing firm in the truth you have been taught. And it is only right that I should keep on reminding you as long as I live. (2 Peter 1:12&13)
The Apostle Peter lived under the rule of Nero who also led the Roman Empire into bankruptcy and social depravity. Peter, who was a simple and energetic fisherman, living in a small village atop a hill where the Jordan River pours into the Sea of Galilee, had known Jesus of Nazareth as a friend and as the Messiah. Peter left everything to follow Him. Peter heard the voice from heaven declaring Jesus to be the beloved Son of God.
Peter was eye witness to the miracles Jesus performed and he took part in the feeding of the 5000 with only a few fish and loaves. Peter saw Jesus walk on water and even walked on the water with Him. Peter watched as Jesus was wrongfully accused, cruelly beaten, unjustly sentenced and angrily crucified. Peter watched Jesus die, and for 3 days Peter hid himself in the fear that he would be next.
Peter knew the guilt of denying Christ; the disappointments which accompany the loss of a friend; the despair that comes when a dream dies … Peter experienced rock bottom, a place with no hope and no future.
Peter’s confusion only increased when he was told the tomb was empty. He ran to the garden himself and did not know what to think. Then, that evening, with more questions than answers, the answer showed up. Peter saw and talked with and held and broke bread with the resurrected Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth, Son of God, living, breathing Savior, victorious over death, hell and the grave.
Peter was not only restored but also reminded of the call of God on his life to feed the sheep. Though Peter had fallen in his faith once again, Jesus lifted him up as He had on the Sea of Galilee some years earlier. Jesus gave Peter new hope and reminded him of his duty.
Late in life, perhaps only a year away from being crucified himself, Peter feels a burning desire within him to remind other Believers of their duty to change the world instead of allowing the world change them.
2 Peter 3
1 This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory.
2 I want you to remember what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.
3 Most importantly, I want to remind you that in the last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires.
4 They will say, “What happened to the promise that Jesus is coming again? From before the times of our ancestors, everything has remained the same since the world was first created.”
5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of His command, and He brought the earth out from the water and surrounded it with water.
6 Then He used the water to destroy the ancient world with a mighty flood.
7 And by the same word, the present heavens and earth have been stored up for fire. They are being kept for the day of judgment, when ungodly people will be destroyed.
11 Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live,
12 looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, He will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames.
13 But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth He has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.
14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to be found living peaceful lives that are pure and blameless in His sight.
15 And remember, the Lord’s patience gives people time to be saved. This is what our beloved brother Paul also wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him—
In closing and while we consider the personal opportunity we each have to stop the decline and the ultimate devastation of our nation, listen while I read just a few of the things our brother Paul said during this same time:
2 Timothy 2 (NLT)
19 God’s truth stands firm like a foundation stone with this inscription: “The LORD knows those who are his,” and “All who belong to the LORD must turn away from evil.”
21 If you keep yourself pure, you will be a special utensil for honorable use. Your life will be clean, and you will be ready for the Master to use you for every good work.
22 Run from anything that stimulates youthful lusts. Instead, pursue righteous living, faithfulness, love, and peace. Enjoy the companionship of those who call on the Lord with pure hearts.
23 Again I say, don’t get involved in foolish, ignorant arguments that only start fights.
24 A servant of the Lord must not quarrel but must be kind to everyone, be able to teach, and be patient with difficult people.
25 Gently instruct those who oppose the truth. Perhaps God will change those people’s hearts, and they will learn the truth.
26 Then they will come to their senses and escape from the devil’s trap. For they have been held captive by him to do whatever he wants.
2 Timothy 3 NLT
1 You should know this, Timothy, that in the last days there will be very difficult times.
2 For people will love only themselves and their money. They will be boastful and proud, scoffing at God, disobedient to their parents, and ungrateful. They will consider nothing sacred.
3 They will be unloving and unforgiving; they will slander others and have no self-control. They will be cruel and hate what is good.
4 They will betray their friends, be reckless, be puffed up with pride, and love pleasure rather than God.
5 They will act religious, but they will reject the power that could make them godly. Stay away from people like that!
You can change the world or let it change you. You’ve been reminded of your opportunity to live a godly life … now the rest is up to you!