Help for Today — Hope for Tomorrow
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[Steve Myers] If you've read your whole Bible, you know of many times when God has said to a nation you've gone too far and you know how it turned out. But what about today? Could it be that we've gone too far? What's the spiritual point of no return for us?
Our world has been infected with something much more serious than the Corona virus. It's sin. How much do you accept sin? Now you might say, well me, of course not. But don't be too quick to answer. Would you say none? Well, maybe just a little. Well, how much? Do you have a tendency to just go along with the flow? Do you approve, do you approve of our culture, the morality that surrounds us, the values? I mean, is it fair to say that our country and even our world has accepted sin? You see the Bible is clear, there is a coming judgment. Our nation and the world will be judged and in fact, you too. Judgment day is coming for all, the Bible is clear.
So it's important to answer: Do I condone sinful ways? Do I have a tendency just to go along with the flow? Now if you do, it puts you in danger. God warns that your eternal life is in jeopardy. Don't go down with the nation. You see our society, our nation, has crossed the Rubicon and that phrase says it all. It refers to a time when the entire history of Western civilization was hanging in the balance. It was by law that no Roman general could lead armed troops into Rome, but Julius Caesar and his 13th legion crossed the Rubicon into Italy and did just that. This was an act of treason. It was an insurrection and the impact of Caesar's decision was irreversible. So the result was years of civil war before Julius finally became dictator of the Roman empire.
Now, what does that have to do with me and my life? Well you see, since then crossing the Rubicon means a decision from which there is no retreat. There's no going back. It's a metaphor for an irreversible act. And so it begs the question. Have we crossed the spiritual Rubicon? Is it too late to change? And what about you personally? I mean think about it for just a moment, what's God's perspective? What does, what does He think? What's His view about you and about our society? I mean, is there any doubt we face a monumental struggle for control over values and this isn't just a political fight. This is a culture war. This is a social conflict. It's a relentless battle. It's a battle for your mind, for your values, and today we see corporations. We see our educational system. We see our politicians being tools in this cultural battle. And wouldn't you say there's been a dramatic realignment and there is such a vast difference between perspectives on what is right and what is a proper value? And it's transformed, not only politics, but it's transformed morality. It's transformed our culture and our society, yet has it brought us closer to God? No, in fact you need to be sure that you're not ignoring the warning signs. I mean, is it possible? Is it possible to ignore the danger signals of a wrong way of life for so long that suddenly it's too late.
We'll see if this Bible passage applies today. We find it in the book of Lamentations chapter two verse 14, and it expresses suffering. It expresses despair. In fact Lamentations is a painful image of a devastated city. Now what had happened, ancient Judah had crossed the Rubicon. The die was cast. The nation could no longer repent. They were no longer able to avoid being taken into captivity by Babylon. Now do you know what led to that problem? Lamentations 2:14 gives us a glimpse. It says, "Your prophets have seen for you false and deceptive visions. They have not uncovered your iniquity to bring back your captives, but have envisioned for you false prophecies and delusions."
That passage says at all. They were so far off track. They were so far removed from God and His standard, and we recognize it was trouble for them. And it wasn't just something for ancient Judah. I mean, this is a dual prophecy. This is a warning for us today as well. I mean, think of it. Have you heard false and deceptive visions? People let's say, oh this is right. This seems right. It looks right. This must be good. Or have our leaders, our political leaders, our religious leaders refused to uncover perversity, depravity, iniquity, which all boils down to sin. And have we heard false prophets? Or they say, this is wonderful. This is what's best, but in actuality, it's something that's dishonest. It's sinful, and it's just plain wicked. But we hear the wonderful rhetoric, but the ideas and the practices are far from God's truth and God says, we can't even see it. We're deluded. And so we have to step back for a moment and just ask ourselves, do we really have the solutions? Does mankind have the answers? Well if you look at the news, it tells us the answer. Look at the issues we face of racism and discrimination and inequality and the ethics in our world today. And what happened to integrity? You see, these are the warning signs of this way of life and where it's leading. So don't fall with this system. You see society has itself into a predicament from which it just cannot get out.
Now I want you to be aware of what's happening in this world today. And so we prepared a special Bible study aid is called "Are We Living in the Time of the End?" Call us at the number on your screen. You will want to get a copy for yourself. Go to our website beyondtoday.tv. Where are we when it comes to the times that we live in, you really need to know. You don't want to go down with the ship. So get your free copy. You can read it right online at beyondtoday.tv, or you can download it or order your free copy. Call that number on your screen.
It's very obvious. Even when you look at statistics today, statistics show we used to be unique in America. You might even say we were devout. From 1937 all the way to about the year 2000, that's over 60 years, church affiliation was almost constant during that whole time. 70% of Americans were affiliated and claim affiliation with the church or a religion. Today it is at an all time low, less than half today claim any connection to religion. And of course then we have the atheists, the agnostics, those that claim, no connection whatsoever. That number has exploded to over one quarter of the population. In fact this is something that doesn't only affect churches, but that affects ethics. It affects principles and morality and godly values. They too are as low as ever. So would you say we've crossed the Rubicon? Bible prophecy points to what will happen, what's going to happen in this end time and you cannot afford to get caught up in the values of this world and what society calls truth.
There's an interesting example of this that we can read in the book of Amos. In Amos chapter four, God speaks to a people who had crossed the Rubicon. In fact, in many ways they chose things that were anti-God against God and yet in the contrary, things were pretty good. Things were going great. When you looked at morality, it was a time of degeneracy. It was a time of arrogance. It was a time of materialism. Israel had reached the point where they no longer heard the warnings from God. I mean, the die was cast, the damage was done. So what was left? Only to be held accountable by God. So Amos 4:12, summarizes that very fact, this is what God says. "Therefore, thus will I do to you, O Israel, because I will do this to you. Prepare to meet your God, O Israel."
You see, they had tolerated sin for so long. They didn't any longer know how to do what was right and they were about to be destroyed. What does history show? It shows just that. They were overcome and they were taken into captivity. And once again, this is a passage that not only applies to ancient Israel, but it applies today as well in our nation nationally, and to us personally, individually as well, because many, if not most in our world have not only forgotten how to do what's right. They don't know what's right and the Bible shows very clearly God can be provoked once too often and sometimes He does. Sometimes He says, this is it. This is the last straw.
So don't let His patience run out on you. God's word reminds us over and over and over. In the story of the Bible, it tells us that obedience brings blessings, disobedience on the other hand brings judgment and curses. So as our culture pushes us it pushes us further and further and further away from God, and as events begin to spiral downhill, it's absolutely critical that you, that as Christians, we just cannot follow that slippery slope. That just goes straight downhill. And so we got to ask ourselves, do I really know God's will? Do I understand it? Do I know His purpose? Do I live by His law in His way? Because God doesn't say, well just try to be a little bit better than the world around you. He doesn't ask us or just make a nice request that we be a little bit better. You know, what does He do? God commands us. He says, "Come out of the world, be separate, be different live by His standard." In fact, it becomes obvious.
God does not want us to crash with this world and its values and in fact, that was an interesting scenario that played out during world war II. The Air Corps made a frightening phrase, very popular. The phrase was the point of no return. That was that spot. That was the designated spot in space where the fuel supply of an aircraft would be half gone. That was the point that there was not enough fuel to reverse direction and get back to base. And if they hadn't turned, when they reached that point, there was only two options. You either crash on your way back, or you crash in enemy territory. And you see, I believe we've reached that point. We've reached the point of no return. We've run out of spiritual fuel because we accept sin. We condone it and we participate in it and God is very clear that we need to rise to His standard. And He dedicates a whole chapter in the New Testament to that very fact, to warn us, to help us to see the truth. And when we look at what it says in Romans chapter one becomes very clear, verse 18. This is what God inspired.
He says for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness. Do people do that? Do people hold back the truth? Do they detain it and hinder it and keep it back and restrain it? I think if we're honest, we've seen that evidence, haven't we? You know what's happened. We've thrown out prayer, we can't be praying. And what do we do? We approve of killing innocent lives. Abortion is legal. What else have we done? Well, we've redefined what marriage is all about. And you see, we fulfill what God says here. People directly resist the truth. They won't believe it, because if they did, you'd have to change. You'd have to give up sin. And so pride, vanity take precedence. God holds us responsible. He says, there's no excuse. And in fact, after all we look around our world, we've got what it takes to do what's right. We have the world's best selling book. The most widely distributed book in the world, 5 billion copies. That's the Bible, the Bible. It is within reach, but we don't extend our arms. We tend not to seek the truth. Sadly, most people have never read it.
So verse 26, God says, "For this reason, He gave them up to vile passions." And then He lists sins that follow some of the most offensive, vile, and degrading things you could imagine and it's shocking. But we begin to notice, these are the things that our world calls freedom. Our world calls this diversity. Our world calls this, this is love. In fact, our world has taken these things out of the arena of morality. And so society today says, oh, this isn't about morality. This is an issue of law, because these things are good. These things are better. They're better than just acceptable. They're good and they're legal.
And so come back to where we began. Do you accept sin? Do you support it? Do you condone it and excuse it. God's word says, don't go down that path. Don't go down that path. I certainly pray that you don't. To help be sure to get our Bible study aid, "Are We Living in a Time of the End?" This Bible study aid will certainly help you in finding truth. Go to our website beyondtoday.tv, call us at the number on your screen. We'll send this booklet to you absolutely free. Or you can go online, download it yourself, or read it right there at your convenience, because it is so critical that we recognize what's happening in our world today. How often has that come to your mind when you've seen the news, you've heard what's going on. Have you thought what is going on? You need to sort it out. So be sure and get your copy of, "Are We Living in a Time of the End?"
Now, if you need proof, there's evidence. Just look at the opinions about same-sex marriage. 1988, only 11% of Americans supported same-sex marriage. Fast forward about 20 years, 2009, that number had changed to 49% approval. Then just a few years later in 2020 the Public Religion Research Institute found that 70% of Americans now support same-sex marriage. What's your opinion? Well, if we look at Romans chapter one, we can certainly see God's opinion. Verse 28 is such an amazing reminder. It says, "Even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a debased mind." That's a disgraceful mind, a shameful mind. It says, "To do those things which are not fitting." And here it's detailed. It's not just a sexual thing. It says, "Being filled with all unrighteousness, sexual immorality, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness, full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, evil mindedness, and the list goes on and on until it comes to a significant, a convicting point. Here we see in verse 32, it says, "Knowing the righteous judgment of God, that those who practice such things are deserving of death. Not only do the same, but also approve of those who practice them."
Do you approve? That's going along with it? That's condoning it. That's excusing it. And you see God's put America on notice. God's put the world on notice. He says, you've reached the point of no return. Go ahead, go ahead, have it your way. Do what you want. Turn your back on me and my warnings and like ancient Israel, He says, your preoccupation with material things, your religious hypocrisy, your moral perverseness has destroyed the nation. And God says, our nation cannot, will not survive. It is a dire situation and it just may be too late to change the direction of the nation. But it doesn't mean it's too late for you. If you put up with sin, it's time to change.
God gives us a call to repentance, a beautiful call. Back in the book of Amos, He reminds us what it should be like, what it can be like for you. In Amos chapter 5:24, he says this, "Let justice run down like water and let righteousness like a mighty stream." That's the rule. That should be the rule in our life. And that should be the evidence that we stand against this world's ways, because it reminds me of a powerful waters. You think of powerful water. You ever been to Niagara falls? There's some powerful waters, just raging. And it seems impossible that any force could possibly be strong enough to stop that gigantic force of water. Yeah, it had happened. March 30th, 1848 for 30 long silent hours the river stopped. The falls dried up. And there was a strange, eerie silence that filled the air. Many people paniced, some ran to churches to pray. Later that evening, there was a roar that was said to have shaken the foundations of the earth when the solid wall of water crested to an amazing height, curled down that channel and crashed once again, over the falls. What had happened? High winds. High winds had caused millions of tons of ice on Lake Erie to become lodged at the source of the river. It blocked the channel completely until it finally shifted and water broke through.
Now, there's an amazing lesson there for us. God's justice. God's righteousness may be held back for a little time, but eventually just like the mighty Niagara, forces will shift. That pent up weight of justice will run down like water and righteousness, like a mighty stream. And God calls for that purity in you and in me and just like that rushing water, we need to live our life. So be sure and get our study aid, "Are We Living in a Time of the End?" so that you can be prepared. Call us at the number on your screen or go to beyondtoday.tv. Because it seems we have reached that point of no return. We recognize that as a nation, we've come to that point and the Bible predicts a time when America will be no more. That's a time that's going to affect all of us and it's a reminder that every one of us will stand before the judgment seat of Christ.
One day, everyone, including our entire nation, but every individual will answer to God, but you can be ready. You don't have to live condoning the ways of the world around us. You don't have to go along with sin. You can be ready for that ultimate judgment. If we're to avoid the point of no return, remember the solution. In fact, it's the only solution and it's a spiritual solution. Do you know God's will? I mean, really know it. Do you understand His word, the Bible? Do you live by that word? Do you have a relationship with God the father and Jesus Christ? Do you really live His way understand His law, His expectations, His commandments, do you live by His direction and by His guidance? If we do that, living God's way will automatically place us in opposition to the philosophy of this world. It will automatically place us on a different path from the ways of this world and so it leads us to stop focusing on trying to be politically correct.
What do we need? We need to be biblically correct. We need to have godly values. And so we need to do what's right. We need to reach out and pick up this book and begin to study it and ask questions. What does God want for my life? And so read your Bible, reach out. I'm sure you have it in your home already. You can also order our study aids. Be sure, go to our website. You will find plenty of materials that will help you to learn the right way to live. So don't wait. Don't get caught up in the ways of this world. Don't just go with the flow. Recognize the fact that ultimate judgment is coming. So stop thinking, I've got time. I've got time, it's not that big. No, we've seen how fast things can change in our world today. And so we recognize, and God gives us this warning. Don't turn your back on that warning. Don't be like our world. Don't be like our nation. Look to God because if we're to avoid the point of no return, that means we cannot afford to take sin lightly. And so when you see the world, when you see the selfishness, when you see the pride and the envy and the complacency, and you see our world condoning sin, realize might be in me too. You see that's the time to realize, I am at the Rubicon. I've been flying in the wrong direction. And so I've got to reverse. I've got to repent. I've got to turn and choose to change because it's not too late. It is not too late. So make that conscious decision to never fall in line with the values this world around us. Determine to get close to God and He promises to give you the power to avoid the point of no return.
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Hi, I'm Gary Petty, a pastor with United Church of God. If you're looking for a church that encourages living with the word of God really teaches, you found the right place. Visit ucg.org to find a church near you. We're looking forward to meeting you soon.