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ARTICLES

All articles below were written by Pastor Ron Smals and appeared in the Mansfield News Journal.

BUILDING BEGINS AT WOODVILLE GBC

April 13, 2015

On Sunday, April 12, 2015, Woodville Grace Brethren Church held a groundbreaking ceremony on their property dedicating the new addition project to the Lord. Pastor Ron Smals, Lead Pastor, along with Pastor Aaron Jones, Pastor of Spiritual Development, Pastor Gene Witzky, Associate Pastor of Visitation, and Jim Botdorf, the Elder overseeing the building project, donned ceremonial shovels and hard hats as they dug into the ground to initiate a long planned for building addition.


Pastor Smals read Matthew 7:24-27 emphasizing the need to build on a proper foundation, Jesus Christ. He reminded the congregation of the many exciting things that God is doing through the church to reach the community with the Gospel. Pastor Jones led in a prayer of dedication followed by the congregation singing the Doxology.


The building project includes an additional parking lot and a 3,600 square foot building addition. The new building will include 2 new bathrooms, kitchen, a large food pantry storage room and a foyer area intended to be the entryway into the next phase of building which will be a new worship center.


Woodville GBC has enjoyed significant growth over the past few years and is in desperate need for additional facilities. One of their avenues of ministry to the community is the Helping Hands Food Pantry. They purchase the food from the Cleveland Food Bank and feed on the average 155 families or 500 people per month. Each person receives enough food to feed their family for about a week.


The church also has many outreach ministries for the community including on Wednesday nights an AWANA program for children grades preschool through 5th grade and Grace Youth Ministries for grades 6th through 12th. The church has a woodworking ministry located at 1552 W. Cook Road in Mansfield. The Woodville Preschool ministers to 33 families each year. Two teams of men and women hold regular Bible Studies at the Community Alternative Center each Monday night.


Woodville Grace Brethren Church is located at 580 Woodville Road. Sunday worship services are at 9 a.m. and 10:45 a.m. Fellowship Cafe is each Sunday between the services with coffee and refreshments at 10:15 a.m. All are welcome at WGBC!

MUCH FORGIVENESS, MUCH LOVE

May 18, 2013

Have you ever had someone ask forgiveness for a wrong they had done to you? Have you ever had someone forgive you for something that you know you did wrong? Forgiveness is very cleansing. When you hear the words, “you are forgiven,” it is like a weight off your shoulders.


In Luke 7:36-50, we find a very lengthy story about a Pharisee who invited Jesus for dinner in his house. In that story we also see a woman who was most likely a prostitute, or at least a professional adulteress, who is described as “a sinner.”


The Pharisee was most likely looking for evidence against Jesus so that he could once and for all write Him off as the Messiah. The Pharisees did not have an open mind about the things that Jesus taught. They saw Him as a blasphemer and one who arrogantly gave Himself the delusion that He could forgive sins.


They were the self-appointed guardians of legalistic, external, ritualistic religion. They hated the message Jesus taught concerning grace, repentance, forgiveness and His call for sincere love of God from the heart. They hated the way He pointed out their hypocritical self-righteousness. They hated the way He hung out with the lowlifes and outcasts of society.


Jesus, knowing his motives, accepted his invitation to dinner. While reclining at the table eating dinner, with feet outstretched behind him, as was the custom of the day, the woman, “a sinner,” slipped into the house because she knew Jesus was there.


She had with her an alabaster vial of perfume, a valuable instrument of the trade, ready to anoint Jesus. Something had happened in her life that demanded that she find Jesus. We pick up the passage in verse 38 where it says, “and standing behind Him at His feet weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume.”


Verse 39 says, “Now when the Pharisee who had invited Him saw this, he said to himself, ‘If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.’” Jesus proved that He was a prophet for He read the man’s thoughts and answered him even though he had not spoken out loud. Jesus tells a parable about two people who were in debt to the same lender. One owed a year and a half of his income compared to the other who owed about two months of income. Neither was able to pay their debt, so the lender forgave them both. Jesus asks the Pharisee this question, “So which of them will love him more?” The Pharisee answered correctly that the one who had been forgiven the most.


Jesus then drives home the point of the passage by comparing the actions of the woman to the lack of actions on the part of the Pharisee. Jesus said to the Pharisee in verses 44 to 46, “I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume.”


Why would this woman show such emotion? Why would she so humiliate herself by showing such public displays of gratitude? Why did she have to come to that place to see Jesus?


Jesus clearly explains what has taken place in her life in verse 47, “For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” In verse 48, Jesus says to the woman, “Your sins have been forgiven.” It is clear from the text that the reason this woman responded to Jesus in the way she did was because she already encountered Him prior to this event and had heard Him say, “You are forgiven.”


What freeing words, “You are forgiven.” We all have skeletons in our closets. It is interesting how this woman is described as “a sinner.” Which one of us is without sin? Which one of us has a clean record before God? When we recognize just how sinful we are before God, and confess our sins before Him, we will begin to respond to Jesus the same way this woman did. We will lavish upon Him such actions of love and humiliation because we understand what it means to be forgiven!

NO ROOM FOR JESUS STILL

December 8, 2012

A number of years ago an article appeared in a newspaper about a christening party in a wealthy Boston suburb. The home was filled with people on that cold wintry night. As the guests entered the home they placed their winter coats on the bedroom adjacent to the dining area. People were busy eating and drinking and celebrating and enjoying one another, when someone asked, “By the way, where is the baby?”

The mother’s heart leaped as she ran from the room and rushed into the bedroom where she had left the baby asleep in the middle of the bed. Upon her arrival she found that the baby was smothered to death by the mound of coats that had been left on the bed.


That is a very sad story which I assume really did happen. The guests were so busy celebrating the baby’s arrival that the very guest of honor was overlooked and smothered to death.

I cannot help but think of the similarity of what happens every year at this same time. We celebrate what is called Christmas. The very heart of the word tells us that we are celebrating the birth of Christ. But, we are no longer allowed in many places to put up a manger scene. It is no longer called a Christmas program at many schools, but has now been designated a Holiday Program or Winter Program.

We are so busy with activities. We enjoy a delightful time with trees that shine with beautiful lights and songs that move our hearts to a wonderful feeling of joy and gifts that are appealing to the eyes. All things that are not wrong in and of themselves. But, I wonder if we are smothering the baby.

The true meaning of Christmas and life itself is often forgotten amidst the hustle and bustle of celebrating the birth of a baby. While we enjoy ourselves, the baby is left unnoticed.

It is no different today than it was 2,000 years ago at the first Christmas. Luke 2:1-7 says it like this:

  1. Now in those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus, that a census be taken of all the inhabited earth.

  2. This was the first census taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria.

  3. And everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city.

  4. Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and family of David,

  5. in order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child.

  6. While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth.

  7. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Did you notice that last phrase: “Because there was no room for them in the inn”? Why not? Because entire families were traveling to their home town, Bethlehem, to register for the census and to pay their taxes. There were soldiers and government officials and guards as well in order to conduct the census. They were all too busy to worry about a pregnant woman who was about to give birth. Besides, there were probably other pregnant women there as well. The inns were all full.

Nobody was looking for the Christ-child to be born. But, it was His time. Jesus was born in a stable with animals and all their smells. Mary gave birth to Jesus, the King, in such lowly surroundings. It was a picture of obscurity, poverty, and rejection. The very Creator of the universe was rejected by His own creation.

It is very fitting that Paul writes in 2 Corinthians 8:9, “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich.”

But, do we dare criticize those people who were there in that time and place? Are not our own hearts so crowded with other things such as riches, honors, prestige, pleasures, business affairs, possessions, relationships, etc. that we find that there is no room in our overcrowded schedules for Jesus and His work.

“Go to a Bible study? No way, I’ve got this to do and that to do. Go to church? Are you kidding? That’s one of the few days that I have to do other things. I just don’t have time to reflect on His will. I just don’t have the desire to go out of my way to do His pleasure.” We are just as guilty as the entire Roman Empire 2,000 years ago. We have crowded Jesus out of the picture in our lives. There is just no room!

Will you make room for Jesus in your life this Christmas Season and all year long?

WHO'S GOING TO TAKE CARE OF MOM?

December 17, 2011

Things have been really hectic at the Smals’ household lately! Our first grandchild was born on May 2nd; a beautiful little girl named Natalie. She is such a blessing and it is fun to be a grandparent. If that is not enough excitement for our stage in life, another event has occurred that also has brought great joy to my wife and me. My mother-in-law is in the process of moving in with us. I know that this would be a great place to insert a mother-in-law joke, but I will refrain. I am blessed to have a great mother-in-law.

To have her move in means that lots has to happen in what we used to call the basement but now lovingly call the lower level. One of the men from church has volunteered to help me complete the project. I have never attempted such a feat before, but it has been fun to learn how to do drywall, cut crown molding and lay ceramic tile.

Why would anyone be excited to have their mother-in-law move in? Often times I hear of families fighting over who has to take in mom. Others just ignore their responsibility and hope that someone will step in and do it so that they won’t be expected to do so.

We find that many folks are content to leave it up to the government or non-profit organizations and the like to care for folks in their later years. But, the Scriptures are rather clear on who has the responsibility to care for mom, especially after dad has passed away. For the follower of Jesus Christ it should always be with great joy that we obey our Lord and fulfill what He tells us in the Word.

The Apostle Paul, writing to a young Timothy who is shepherding the church at Ephesus, gives very clear instructions on the care of widows. He says it like this in 1 Timothy 5:3-7,

“Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God. The widow who is really in need and left all alone puts her hope in God and continues night and day to pray and to ask God for help. But the widow who lives for pleasure is dead even while she lives. Give the people these instructions, so that no one may be open to blame (New International Version).

This passage makes it rather clear as to whom the responsibility falls. It first of all falls upon the children and grandchildren. In fact, Paul goes on to say in verse 8 of the same passage, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (NIV). Those are powerful words filled with great responsibility. What follower of Jesus wants to be accused of denying the faith? Or, to be called “worse than an unbeliever”?

If we have a relationship with Jesus Christ, we will desire to walk in obedience to the Word of God. In fact, Jesus Himself left us an example to follow. As He hung on the cross dying for the sins of the world, some of His final words included making sure that His mother was cared for in His absence. In John 19:25-27 we read,

“Near the cross of Jesus stood His mother, His mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus then saw His mother there, and the disciple (John) whom He loved standing nearby, He said to her, “Woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother!” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home” (NIV).

Even in His dying moments Jesus was conscientious of His responsibility to care for mom.

I know that it is not always possible to take a loved one into the home to care for. Sometimes it is necessary to place them in an assisted living facility or a nursing home or with some other health care provider. But, we clearly see from Scripture that the responsibility to care for these matters falls upon the children and grandchildren. This is very much in keeping with one of the ten commandments in Exodus 20:12, “Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you” (NIV).

We should never see this as a chore or a burden, but an opportunity that God has given us to repay those who have given us life and sacrificed in so many ways. This can only be done when we have right heart and right attitude before the Lord. If we are self-centered and even calloused in our heart we will probably shirk our responsibility. Are you being obedient to God in this area of your life?

WHY IS EVERYBODY SO AFRAID OF BABY JESUS?

December 17, 2011

As we rapidly approach Christmas Day, I never cease to be amazed how hard everyone tries to keep baby Jesus out of the season that celebrates His birth. Manger scenes cannot appear on government property. When I went to school we had Christmas programs, but now they are called Winter or Holiday programs. Merry Christmas has been rendered abominable. We may ruffle someone’s feathers if we mention the name of CHRIST. How can a baby be so threatening?

Well, let’s start at the beginning in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve were given free reign of a perfectly beautiful and sinless place. In fact, God said, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:16-17). Giving into the temptation of Satan, Eve and Adam both ate of the forbidden fruit. Consequently, sin had entered into the world. Man determined that he knew more than God.

That attitude surrounds us continually in our world today. The Bible is not God’s Word according to the masses. God didn’t really say what He said in 2 Peter 1:20-21, “But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.”

When you remove God’s Word, the Bible, from the center of authority, you suppress any communication from God, except through creation. So, man creates his own understanding of God and what God might have said versus what “is written.” Thus, the sin of mankind has so blinded his heart to the truth of God’s Word, that mankind runs in fear from facing the possibilities of God’s existence, and God forbid, the existence of His Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus Christ was sent from God into the world to help mankind deal with the guilt and consequences of his depraved sinful heart. We were created to have fellowship with God. Without God’s presence in our lives, there is an empty void that results in all sorts of consequences. Yet, man resists at all costs an acknowledgement of a holy yet loving God who provided an appropriate sacrifice for the sins of any who would believe.

That brings us to a conundrum. Is Christianity the only true religion that brings us into a right relationship with God? Or, are there multiple paths by which man may walk in order to arrive at God? The answer lies in the Scriptures; and the Scriptures alone.

In John 14:6-7, Jesus said to Thomas, one of His disciples, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. If you had known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” That is a bit assertive and authoritative to say the least. But, it is in keeping with the rest of Scripture.

The Apostle Paul states in Colossians 2:8-10, “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority.” It sounds like Jesus is the Ruler of the Universe. But, man in his self-centeredness and depravity does not want to bend the knee to the Jesus who entered the world as a baby.

But, that will not always be true as we read in Philippians 2:5-11, “Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him, the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven, and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Meanwhile, Jesus is exiled from His own birthday celebration. People live in fear that they might lose control of their self-centered world, if they were to make Jesus the Lord of their life. But, from personal experience I can tell you, that I have never experienced such peace and joy until I gave my heart to Christ. Jesus truly is the reason for the season and everyday of existence!!!!!

WHAT IN THE WORLD IS GOING ON?

June 11, 2011

In recent months, it seems as though there has been a rash of what we call "natural disasters." The earthquake/tsunami in Japan took the lives of more than 10,000 people. Just last month in Joplin, Mo., we saw the devastating tornado that wiped out an entire city along with 138 lives. The pictures are still fresh in our minds as photo after photo revealed the pain and suffering of people like ourselves who lived the nightmare. It makes one think, "What in the world is going on?"

In Romans 8:19-22, we read about present creation versus future creation. The Apostle Paul writes, "For the anxious longing of the creation waits eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

This passage is in the context of suffering that goes back to verse 17b, "... if indeed we suffer with Him so that we may also be glorified with Him." This is a reference to the suffering that true believers face in a world that is not tolerant or accepting of those who follow Jesus Christ as a way of life.

Then Paul goes on to say in verse 18, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us." What suffering we face now is nothing compared to the glorious revealing that will take place when Jesus takes His Bride, the church, the true believers and followers of Jesus, with Him to heaven someday.

In this context, Paul turns his attention to what is currently happening in the physical world among all of creation. Sin at the Fall in the Garden of Eden not only had its corrupted effect upon mankind, but also upon creation itself.

In Genesis 3:17-19 we find the curse that God placed upon man and creation. "Then to Adam He (God) said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, "You shall not eat from it;" Cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'"

In Romans 8:19 we read that creation is anxiously longing and waiting eagerly for the revealing of the sons of God. It is a rather amusing picture of creation with an outstretched head on tiptoes with eyes looking ahead with intent expectancy to the return of Jesus Christ. Now it is hard to tell who the true believers are and who are not. But, at that time, Jesus will reveal those who are His own.

Verse 20 goes on to indicate that creation was placed under subjection to futility. Before the Fall of man, there were no weeds or poisonous plants, thistles or thorns, or anything else that could cause man misery or harm. Since the Fall, we have decay, disease, pain, death, natural disasters, pollution and all the other forms of evil that are the result of God's curse on creation.

God will someday remove the curse. When? Verse 21 says when God's children reach glory. There will be two phases to this. There will be a partial removal of the curse during the Millennial Kingdom, when Jesus sits on the throne of David in Jerusalem reigning over the earth for a 1,000 years. Then, after the Great White Throne Judgment, God will destroy the current heaven and earth and will create a new heaven and earth.

Revelation 21:1 says it like this, "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea." Verses 4 and 5 go on to say, "and He (Jesus) will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away." And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true."

Just like the believer in Jesus Christ awaits his redemption, the whole creation awaits its redemption. Romans 8:22 says, "For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now."

Creation is out of sync. Just like the woman has pain in childbirth, the earth endures labor pains of its own. So we have earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and other natural disasters. Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

Pastor Ron Smals

HELPING THE HURTING

July 24, 2010

Hurting people are all around us!  We face an economy that has led to layoffs and unemployment.  Many are wondering where their next meal will come from.  Some try to cope by turning to drugs and alcohol.  Marriages are breaking up due to the pressure and stress.  Children are abused out of anger and frustration.  Where do they turn for help?  And how long will that help last?


These are real-life situations that I face in ministry every day.  What is the church to do?  Is the church even relevant to the needs of the day?  Where does Jesus fit into the scenario?  I have asked these questions over and over again.


As I have contemplated these issues, I have searched the Scriptures for answers and find that the church of believers has been called to meet needs both physically and spiritually.  I grew up in an era of churches that shied away from meeting the physical needs of people because you might be labeled liberal and holding to a “social gospel.”  It is time that the church be Jesus to a world of hurting people.  We must lay aside our fear of labels and be obedient to Jesus’ call to His church to reach a world that is lost and in desperate need of help.


So what do we do?  As I look at the Gospels and view the ministry and teaching of Jesus, I learn that Jesus first met the physical needs of people in order to lead them to their greatest need which is spiritual.  He healed the lame, the blind, he raised the dead, and he fed the hungry.  But, at the heart of all that He did, He was driven by compassion and love for the downcast and hurting.  In fact, He said in Luke 5:31-32, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick.  I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance.”


But how do we get sinners to see their need?  When they are hungry, how do they hear the truth?  When they are addicted, how do they see the significance of the Gospel?  When they are hurting, how do they understand what will take away their pain?


In Luke 10:25-29, we find Jesus in a dialogue with a lawyer who was attempting to discredit Him by asking, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?”  And Jesus asked him what he personally thought.  The lawyer responded, “YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND; AND YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.”  Jesus told him that he was right on.  In fact, Jesus said, “DO THIS AND YOU WILL LIVE.”  But the man wanted to justify himself, since this is impossible to do without coming to God on His terms.  So he asked, “And who is my neighbor?”


Jesus responded by telling a story about the Good Samaritan.  In that story, Jesus applauds a Samaritan and his acts of kindness.  That Samaritan, who was hated by the Jews for he was half-Jew and half-Gentile, helped a Jew who was lying on the side of the road half dead while the religious people (a priest and a Levite) passed by and refused to help.


The Samaritan “felt compassion, and came to him and bandaged up his wounds, pouring oil and wine on them; and he put him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn and took care of him.  On the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper and said, ‘Take care of him; and whatever more you spend, when I return I will repay you.”  Jesus asked the lawyer which of the three had been a true neighbor.  The lawyer answered, “The one who showed mercy toward him.”  Then Jesus answered, “Go and do the same.”


Nowhere in that parable did the Samaritan say a word.  Actions speak louder than words.  Jesus does not tell us the conclusion to that parable.  Did the Samaritan follow up with the spiritual needs of the Jew?  We are not told.  But, who would have the best opportunity to reach that wounded Jew with spiritual truth – the priest, the Levite, or the hated Samaritan?  I believe it would the latter.


Churches and individual Christ-followers can help the hurting by first meeting their physical needs and building relationships that will lead opportunities to lead them to their greatest need of spiritual hope.  When a man is hungry, the greatest need on his mind is physical food.  Once he has been fed, he is most ready to listen to the one who has fed him.  Once the hurting person has found help for their felt needs, the next step is to satisfy the need of the soul.  The church must once again become the church, following Jesus by meeting needs both physically and spiritually.

Pastor Ron Smals

UNTITLED

May 30, 2009

The news lately has been bad, very bad, even worse. We hear that our prisons are overcrowded. There are problems in our schools – drugs, guns, knives, fights, etc. There is domestic violence, not just between mom and dad, but child and parent. Respect is no longer to be expected, even of authority figures. The court room dockets are full to overflowing; there are just too many cases! The economy is a mess. We hear of corporate greed and mishandling of funds. What is going on? Stop the world, I want to get off!

Should we be surprised by what we read and hear? No! The Bible is filled with prophecies of what will happen in the last days. God says, “But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be 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 Timothy 3:1-5).

Why is all of this happening now? Could it be the last days? I think so. If the Apostle Paul thought so about 2,000 years ago, how much more should we think the same today! In fact, God says, “But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (2 Timothy 3:13). So, what does the last days mean?

The next event on God’s prophetic calendar is for Jesus to rapture those who are true believers out of this world and take them to heaven. Then will begin a seven year period of tribulation on the earth. If you think things are bad now, just wait until then. The signs of the times are all around us.

Is there hope? Yes! What must we do?

  1. Turn back to God! As a nation we are afraid to talk about God because we may offend someone. Look at our money, listen to our patriotic songs, recite the Pledge of Allegiance to the American flag, read the Declaration of Independence, observe what is etched on the very structures of the Supreme Court, Washington Monument, etc. God is the center piece of who we are as a nation. We must include Him again! Not just as a nation, but as individuals and families. We have become so complacent when it comes to spiritual things. Entertainment has taken priority over worship. We are too busy building our own kingdoms, that there is no room for God in our lives. Joshua said, “If it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: . . . but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD” (Joshua 24:15).

  2. Pray! God says, “First of all, then, I urge that entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings, be made on behalf of all men, for kings and all who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.” We must pray for our President, Congress, Governor, Supreme Court, Mayor, Judges, etc. We must allow God back into His world.

  3. Acknowledge Jesus as Lord! Jesus Christ is the only way to God. The Bible says, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6).

  4. Repent! We must turn from our evil ways. We can only do that through Jesus Christ. He can enable us to live a life of righteousness. We will not do that on our own. We need Jesus. Paul’s message to the Gentiles after his conversion was “that they should repent and turn to God, performing deeds appropriate to repentance” Acts 26:20).

  5. Be watching for the return of Jesus Christ! God says, “And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation, without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him” (Hebrews 9:27-28). As Jesus ascended into heaven, His disciples watched Him disappear out of sight. Two angels said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into the sky? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in just the same way as you have watched Him go into heaven” (Acts 1:11). Let us be looking to the eastern skies!