Good afternoon, everybody. It’s good to see everybody here joining in person and also those who are joining online. It’s good to see Deshawn with a nice snazzy haircut. That’s great. He’s getting ready for job interview season. So praise God for that.
Before I invite anyone who has a word or a testimony to share, an important announcement for next Sunday, December 17th. Rather than our normal service, we’re going to do a combined service with First Baptist Church of Culver City. Pastor Max is out of town. He asked me to preach. So I thought, why don’t we combine for that week. So it will be 11 a.m. here, not 2:30 next Sunday.
Does anybody have a testimony, a praise, something that the Lord revealed to you that you would like to edify the body with? And please pray for the Park family. They are all traveling to Korea, and they’ll be there for a month or so. Okay, if there’s no one today, that’s fine.
We’ll read from Luke 21, verse 25 to 28. Luke 21, verse 25. And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth the stress of nations in. perplexity, because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken, and then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
25 “And there will be signs in sun and moon and stars, and on the earth distress of nations in perplexity because of the roaring of the sea and the waves, 26 people fainting with fear and with foreboding of what is coming on the world. For the powers of the heavens will be shaken. 27 And then they will see the Son of Man coming in a cloud with power and great glory. 28 Now when these things begin to take place, straighten up and raise your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.” (Luke 21:25-28, ESV)
Okay, let’s pray.
Lord Jesus, we want to meet you today. We want to meet you every day in preparation for the final day when you will descend from heaven on clouds, and we will meet you in the air until that day. We pray that you prepare us so that we can be strong in these final days, especially if we are the final generation to live through the tribulation. Thank you, Lord. Meet us today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
To me, the verses that I read, I think, are the goal of the Christian life. Like, how do you know if you are strong in your faith? How do you know if you’ve been living right up until that point? If you are in the final tribulation days and years, and you are undergoing incredible testing from the Lord, if you are from the pre-trib camp, and you believe the church has been raptured, then these verses, you may say, don’t apply to you.
But let’s put aside theology for a moment, and let’s assume that you are, in fact, in this final stage of human history, right before the return of Christ. To me, this is what I’m after. This is what I hope all of us are after. Everybody is panicking.
Everybody is hiding under a rock, but we are people who stand straight up with our heads raised, and we are so excited that the day of redemption has come, the day of salvation is finally upon us. We get to see Jesus in the flesh, and we will spend all eternity with Him. This is how I want to go out. I don’t want to be limping, and cowering, and just head between my knees. I don’t want to be in that kind of a posture. I want myself and all of us to have this kind of a posture, standing straight, head raised, welcoming the Lord as we meet Him in the air.
And so starting from last week, I ended with a passage, Matthew 24, verse 45, and I’ll just reread that to refresh our memory, who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household to give them their food at the proper time. Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. And so I started asking the Lord a little bit more after last Sunday, what does it mean to be wise?
I think we understand what it means to be faithful. It’s consistency, it’s putting your faith in Jesus day after day, but what does it mean to be wise? And the same word for wise is in other passages, and I think it helps to kind of unpack it for us. So one passage is Matthew 10, verse 16. He says, behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. So be wise as serpents and innocent as doves. Beware of men, for they will deliver you over to courts and flog you in their synagogues, and you will be dragged before governors and kings for my sake, to bear witness before them and the Gentiles.
The overall message I want to give today is it’s a call for patient endurance. And I think one of the elements of that we see here. The first, how can we endure? How can we stand up straight with head raised high as Jesus is descending on the clouds? The first kind of step to get there is to be shrewd or to be wise. And here he shows us, Jesus clearly tells us what kind of world we’re walking into every single day. We are sheep among wolves. We are sheep among wolves. And so we should be very shrewd. In what way should we be shrewd?
Step one, we should be shrewd relationally.
Jesus says in John chapter 2, when all the crowds are coming to him and many it says believed in his name, Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to the crowds, to those who said they believe in him because he knew all people. He knew what was in their hearts. And so we should be shrewd relationally.
That’s why I think the Lord’s wisdom is in this day of social media, we should be very careful not to post every theological position. We should be very careful not to vocalize all our position about politics and current events because you will have those who will like your post. You will have many other people who are ready to throw stones.
And if we are not shrewd, then our time on this earth will be cut short. And I don’t want to be cut. I don’t want to be even a day short. I want to live to the very end. and fulfill every assignment by being wise.
But if I’m foolish and I just blurt out everything all the time, and I don’t discern, is this person OK? Can I entrust myself to this person? Are we truly friends? And that goes for just because somebody says they believe in Jesus doesn’t mean we just automatically entrust them, entrust ourselves to them. Do we automatically give them our heart? No, we don’t.
And especially social media, we don’t know who’s there on the other side. Should we entrust ourselves to unwarranted criticism in an untimely manner? We don’t want our influence and even our lives to be cut short. And so we should be shrewd. He says, beware of men. And I think that would be wise counsel to take in.
We should beware. We should beware. There are those we can trust, because they have proven themselves to be trustworthy. You don’t share something with them and then later hear it from a second hand, because they only told you. How did that other person get to hear? It’s because that person you shared with wasn’t trustworthy to hold that information in confidence.
We should be shrewd. We should be shrewd. Relationally, not only that, it says in Matthew 10:21, brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child. And children will rise against parents and have them put to death.
21 Brother will deliver brother over to death, and the father his child, and children will rise against parents and have them put to death, (Matthew 10:21, ESV)
And you’ll be hated by all for my name’s sake. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in one town.
Flee to the next for truly I say to you you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes and then Luke 21:16 you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and Friends and some of you they will put to death being shrewd relationally includes your family and your friends.
23 When they persecute you in one town, flee to the next, for truly, I say to you, you will not have gone through all the towns of Israel before the Son of Man comes. 16 you will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death. (Matthew 10:23, Luke 21:16, ESV)
We might think well, they’re they’re blood. They’re friends I’ve known them since childhood I can trust them that very person that you trust Will turn you over to the authorities and they might even attend church.
Because in the last days there will be many counterfeit Christ’s. There will be one counterfeit Christ that is allowed to To remain in existence that is palatable to the masses and it’s not the true Christ. The true Christ if you hold fast to him Jesus says you’ll be hated. The counterfeit Christ you’ll be loved. They’ll put you in front of a news camera. They’ll interview you and ask you What is your position about the Bible and they will they will talk about it But it will not be representative of the true Christ and these people may even be your own family members.
So we should even when it comes to family members be shrewd. Even your own friends who you think are your friends be shrewd. Because these people blood relatives family members Friends you’ve been with for years if they turn If they turn aside and fall astray and follow a counterfeit Christ, even though they attend a church They will turn you in. Because there is a hatred for the true Christ and the true follower of Christ. Be shrewd relationally.
That involves fleeing. And so should we be the kind of person, well, I’m courageous. I’m going to just blurt out and say what I want to say, and I will stand firm and die. I mean, it may come to that. At the end, maybe we can’t hide anymore. Maybe they will find all of us. But until the final stage of history, if the hatred of the true Christian is increasing in your area, maybe it’s wise to flee. Maybe it’s wise to flee and fight another day and witness to one more person.
And so this is not just being courageous. This is not cowardice. This is being shrewd. When it’s not your time yet, then maybe it’s time to flee. And that’s not being a coward. That’s being shrewd. And in the midst of your fleeing, it says the Son of Man will come. And maybe to the end, as it was in the first century, they went underground. They are fleeing as the Roman emperor was going after the Christian. It will be that way worldwide. And there is nowhere to hide.
And so perhaps at some point, we will be brought before world authorities and synagogues.
But until that day, it is not cowardice to flee. It’s actually being shrewd. Another kind of shrewdness is described in Luke 16, the parable of the dishonest manager. It’s a rich man who entrusted the care of his possessions and finances to a manager. And this manager was wasteful. So he should have brewed coffee at home. But he went to the cafe, and he bought $6 lattes. And that was with the master’s money.
And so he was wasteful with the master’s money and so he’s about to get fired. We know this is a parable. It’s not true to life because if you had an employee that was wasteful, you would fire them immediately. But this parable is here for our instruction. There is a deeper lesson here that we’re supposed to discern.
And so this dishonest manager, the reason why he’s dishonest, is this rich man had clientele that owed the rich man money. And so what did this manager do who was about to be fired? He knew he was old and so that’s another detail we get. And so he knows his chance of getting rehired at another company is slim. There is such a thing as ageism. You might be the most qualified person applying for the job but if you are in your 60s, likely you’re not gonna get it. They’re looking for someone in their 20s or 30s, maybe 40s.
And so this person is old and so he knows, okay, I’m likely not gonna get another job like this and I’m too proud to beg. So I need to do something very strategic and actually it’s shrewd what he does. He takes all the debts that are owed to the rich man and he cuts them. And so instead of paying 100, you only pay half of that. And he does that with all the different IOUs that are outstanding. And he is commended for shrewdness.
And the final verses of this parable, Luke 16, verse eight. The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness for the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light.
8 The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. (Luke 16:8, ESV)
And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth so that when it fails, they may. receive you into the eternal dwellings.
So why is this manager cutting the debt of all the people who owed his soon-to-be ex-boss, the rich man? It’s because when he’s out of a job, because he’s made all of these friends in the world, these friends will remember, oh, you made my debt much smaller. And so why don’t you stay in my place? This is how the world works. The rich people help other rich people. And there’s no free lunch. And so if you get my son a job at your company, oh, there’s a board seat for you at my company. I scratch your back, you scratch my back.
This is how the world works. Worldly people who are successful are very good at making friends. It’s using money to make friends. And the rebuke here, and what we’re supposed to learn as the body of Christ, is in the body of Christ, we’re very poor at making friends. Because we’re not as rich. We don’t have as much.
And so when you have less, you tend to hoard it. But with even the little that we have, we’re supposed to be generous with it and make a friend. Because it is unrighteous wealth that’s be shrewd relationally, that’s be shrewd financially. We’re making friends not even for this life. We’re making friends who will welcome us in the eternal dwellings, eternal friends.
And it’s the kindness that we show to someone. who was down and out, who needed the money, we showed kindness to them. In heaven, they’ll be the first to greet us because they remember the kindness. It was the use of unrighteous wealth to make friends eternally. The body of Christ, we need to be shrewd in this way.
Luke 21, verse one. Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box. And he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them, for they all contributed out of their abundance, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she had to live on.
1 Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, 2 and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. 3 And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. 4 For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4, ESV)
It doesn’t actually matter how much we give to the Lord financially or how much we give to others to make friends. It’s really a heart issue. And here, Jesus is highlighting the faith it took for a widow, so she has no husband. She doesn’t have finances coming in month to month. She’s likely not just barely scraping by, and this is all she has to live on, is two small copper coins, and she gives it.
This is someone who is all in. You can just tell by this one act. She is all in spiritually. You can see through the finances. She is all in. I pray we can all be that way, whether it’s through what kind of financial means. It’s not about how much you give. It is, are you all in for Jesus? Are you all in for Jesus?
Are you holding back as this world’s situation? becomes more unstable? Are you gonna buy a bomb shelter underground because you need to you need to make sure you survive the nuclear holocaust or whatever is coming? Or are you the kind of person you’re all in? You put your full trust in Jesus. He is your retirement. He is all you need.
That’s why Jesus highlights this is what full surrender looks like. All that she has to live on she gave it to the Lord Jesus. Now we get back to Luke 21 verse 34.
But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap for it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. But stay awake at all times praying that you may have strength to escape all the things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.
34 “But watch yourselves lest your hearts be weighed down with dissipation and drunkenness and cares of this life, and that day come upon you suddenly like a trap. 35 For it will come upon all who dwell on the face of the whole earth. 36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.” (Luke 21:34-36, ESV)
So whenever we talk about staying awake the rapture preacher of rapture people like to say this is so that you don’t miss miss the rapture of the church. As I read this this is stay awake so you don’t miss heaven right? This is staying awake so that you don’t miss heaven.
And what causes us to fall asleep it is dissipation which is a stupor a drunken stupor drunkenness. He’s saying the same thing but dissipation is maybe more general. You could be you can numb yourself through food. You can numb yourself through games. You can numb yourself through internet. You can numb yourself through your phone. There’s so many ways to medicate yourself. Dissipation. You’re just you’re just a zombie going through life.
Spiritually, you’re falling asleep. It could be through alcohol or your drug of choice. And it could be the cares of this life. We all have burdens. We all have anxieties. We all have bills. We all have things. We all have things that stress us out. All of these three buckets, dissipation, drunkenness, cares of this life, can cause us to fall asleep spiritually.
So my next exhortation is to wake up and focus on Jesus. Wake up. Focus on Jesus. Wake up and focus on Jesus. And be strong in your faith. How? It says, I may have cut that verse. Luke 21, verse 36, but stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place and to stand before the Son of Man.
36 But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man. (Luke 21:36, ESV)
We need to pray for strength to endure so that when Jesus comes, we are standing firm in our faith. We wake up. We focus on Jesus. We need to pray for strength. It takes strength. People say, well, I’m saved, am I not? Because I believe. It’s not a question of whether you believe. Do you have the strength to believe and to endure to the end? It’s a different question altogether.
Yes, we all believe, but belief alone doesn’t guarantee that you will have strength to escape all the tribulation that is coming upon this earth. It takes strength to believe and to endure. We need to pray for it. We need to pray for it. If you feel your strength, your faith getting smaller, you need to pray for strength to endure, strength to believe. Not only do we pray for strength, we do our part and strengthen what remains and is about to die.
That is God’s charge in Revelations 3 to the church in Sardis, verse one. And to the angel of the church in Sardis write, the words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.
1 And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: “The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead.” (Revelation 3:1, ESV)
Wake up and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God.
Remember then what you received and heard. Remember, keep it and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.
If you’re a Calvinist, you say, pray for strength to endure. I pray, and God, you do it all. If you’re a Calvinist, that’s how you believe. That’s what you say. A prayer is all I need. God, you do all the work.
As I read Revelations three, one through three, I see also I need to do my part. We need to do our part. to strengthen what remains and is about to die. So God does his part, we pray to him, he strengthens us, then we do our part, we strengthen what remains and is about to die.
If you’ve been asleep for a while, then likely you’ve gotten weaker in your faith and what you have is about to be put to death, is about to die. So we need to wake up, focus on Jesus, be strong in our faith by praying for strength to endure and then doing our part to strengthen what remains and is about to die, don’t let it die. Don’t let your faith in Jesus die.
Do whatever you need to do on your part to wake up and to strengthen your faith because the days and the years ahead are difficult. You think this year was difficult? Next year, I’m pretty sure is gonna be worse. Next year, I’m pretty sure is gonna be worse. So if you’re limping across the finish line of 2023, next year is gonna be worse.
We need to get stronger in our faith. We need to wake up and get stronger in our faith. Don’t let your faith die through dissipation, drunkenness, and the cares of this life. Focus on Jesus, get stronger in your faith.
To the church in Philadelphia, Revelations 3:11, Jesus says this. I am coming soon, hold fast what you have so that no one may seize your crown. Hold fast to Jesus and never give up. No matter how hard things get, never give up. Don’t quit on Jesus. He’s not gonna quit on you. He’s never gonna quit on you. He’s never gonna quit on you. will never leave nor forsake you.
But you can quit on him, and you can stop enduring to the end. Do you have assurance that you will make it to the end?
Jesus does his part. Once saved, always saved. Jesus is there for you. He will never leave nor forsake you. But what happens if we let go of Jesus, and on our last breath we’re not enduring? Do you have assurance of salvation because of your theology? That’s a risky place to place your confidence in a theology of man.
Instead, let’s hold fast to Jesus to the end, because he will not give up on you. Don’t quit on him. Don’t quit on him, no matter how hard things get. Even if your wife, your children, your spouse, everybody is turning on you and hating on you, and you’re the last man or woman standing on earth, don’t quit on him. Don’t quit on him. This is what it means to endure to the end, especially in time of tribulation.
And then to the church in Laodicea, verse 19, those whom I love, I reprove and discipline. So be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him and he with me.
19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. (Revelation 3:19-20, ESV)
If you haven’t been holding on to Jesus, if you have allowed yourself to get weaker and you’ve fallen asleep, and what you have in Christ is about to die, then start anew today. Repent today and hold fast to Jesus today.
In summary, be shrewd. It is a time to be shrewd in this day and age. Be shrewd in terms of what you publish and what you say and who you allow into your inner circle. Be shrewd. Even your family members, as they grow up, you love them now. They’re under your authority now. But later on, can you trust your grown-up child? Maybe, maybe not. Can you trust your own parents who raise you in the way of the Lord with fear and trembling? Maybe, maybe not.
Because at any point, any one of us can get deceived, can fall away. And that person who is in your inner circle, in your bloodline, they may turn on you. Be shrewd relationally. Be shrewd financially. All of our finances belong to the Lord. It all belongs to the Lord. We should use it, especially as things get tough, to make friends. Use unrighteous wealth to make friends.
And then wake up, focus on Jesus. Be strong in your faith. Praying for strength, God does his part. You do your part. Strengthen what remains and is about to die. Hold fast to Jesus. Never give up. If you haven’t done these things, repent. Start today.
OK, let’s pray. Father, thank you for giving us a charge for patient endurance, your calling, your strength, your love, your patience, your patience, your love for the Lord. Father, thank you for giving us a charge for patient endurance. You’re calling us to patiently endure.
If we look at where we are in our faith now, honestly, if we assess ourselves. Through the mirror of God’s word, we see our faith is not strong enough, Lord. It’s not strong enough to survive this type of tribulation, hatred, betrayal. Father, help us to be shrewd.
Relationally, to be careful what we say and to whom. To what we advertise our position on any number of issues. Help us to be shrewd. Relationally, help us to be shrewd financially. We understand even this year, things have gotten hard financially. You understand that, Lord. You know the state that we’re in.
But Lord, help us not to be afraid. Help us not to clutch on to things more. The cares of this life more. Help us not to numb ourselves through dissipation and drunkenness. Help us to be shrewd financially. To weather whatever storm is coming our way.
Help us to wake up in Jesus. We command all spirits, all of our spirits, to wake up in Jesus’ name. We command all of our spirits to wake up in Jesus’ name. And we focus on Jesus, the founder and finisher, the beginning and the end. From first to last, we hold on to Jesus.
Help us to be strong in our faith. We pray to you for strength, Lord. We need more help from you. Strengthen us, Lord. Send us people who can. strengthen us, who can pour into us, who can counsel us, who can pray for us. We’re praying to you for strength, Lord, in whatever means, supernatural or through people, whatever means, we pray that you would strengthen us.
And even if you do all of your part, we have our part to play. We will strengthen what remains and is about to die. Lord, we don’t want our faith to die. We don’t want our love to grow cold. We will do whatever it takes to fight, to strengthen what remains.
Lord, if there are changes that need to be made to be stronger in our faith, Lord, give us the willpower, give us the inspiration, give us the guidance, whatever changes that need to be made for us to be stronger in our faith, we want to hold fast to Jesus.
We thank you that on your side, your covenant is steadfast, your love endures forever, nobody can snatch you from your hand. You’ve predestined us to be saved, all of this is true. You’ve done your part. You will never leave nor forsake us.
And Lord, we, on our side, we vow to you, we will never leave you, we will never forsake you, we will never fall away from you, we will hold fast to the end, no matter how hard things get. We will hold fast to Jesus, not theology, we hold fast to Jesus until you rapture us and meet us in the air and bring us home.
Lord, we want to make adjustments now so that we’re ready and prepared for 2024. We want to start making even small changes. now so that we can cross the finish line with head raised, standing firm, strong, running hard, so that next year we’re not going to get toppled easily, distracted easily, discouraged easily.
We want to get stronger in every way, emotionally, mentally, physically, spiritually, most of all. We want to get stronger in every way. Nothing can tear us down. Nothing can derail us.
Lord, give us that kind of an unshakable faith in Jesus, holding fast to Jesus to the end. Thank you, Lord. We pray that you meet us and minister to us as we partake in the Lord’s Supper.
We pray that you nourish us and strengthen us. Come into us. Rule and reign over us. Thank you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name we pray, Amen.