And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.
But the one who endures to the end will be saved.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed
throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations,
and then the end will come.
Matthew 24:12-14 (Jesus)
This passage contains some of the final instructions and answers Christ gives to his disciples before being arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane. Here, he sits on the Mount of Olives engaging in a very private, personal conversation with the disciples. They have finally understood that Jesus is preparing to die, but that he will come back to them. But they also know that there will be an end to "all things." So they ask him what signs there will be so they can anticipate those events. Jesus then explains the turmoil that must come, the persecution, wars and conflicts, natural disasters...in short, he describes how the whole earth will groan as the end approaches. Jesus never avoids the full truth about the life of one who follows him. He has already explained that believers will still have troubles, that the world would fight against our beliefs and that ultimately for those who live in the end times, hardships will increase. So how are we to live in the face of increasing hardship for Christians?
The Christian walk requires endurance. Whether or not we are living in the last days, we all experience mountain top highs and deep valley lows in our journey. God calls us to keep going, to not give up, to not lose faith. Galatians 6:9 says, And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. And James tells us in the first chapter of his book that we are even to "count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds." I love that Jesus has given us his holy Spirit to fill us with joy, strength, wisdom, and the faith to endure. Without the presence of Christ in our lives, these trials would be impossible to endure. We never have to keep going under our own strength. God always....ALWAYS provides for us.
Unfortunately, there are many nominal believers, those who say "Lord, Lord" but don't have a personal, heart-transforming, abiding relationship with the sovereign Savior, and Jesus says they will not enter the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 7:21-23). These are the ones who will fall away; their enthusiasm for Christ will fade and they will choose the way of the world rather than the life of a disciple. Jesus knows we will have times of weakness, and he knows we will not be perfect. But if the Spirit of the living God is in our hearts, he will help us endure. We are sealed; we are HIS, and nothing can snatch us from his hand. Our security rests not in what we say we believe or how we act (there are many moral unbelievers); rather, our security rests in what Christ has done in our hearts. I'm thanking God today that I am HIS!
My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.
I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish;
no one will snatch them out of my hand.
My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all;
no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.
To create my page, I stamped the images first and colored them with PrismaColor pencils, layering and shading. Then I did the background with watercolor paints, and finally did the hand lettering. I used the new set from Sweet 'n Sassy Stamps called Whimsy Bouquet, by stamp designer Rebecca Rios.