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The Coming Hard Times

In the coming hard times, we will be tested. Your score on this future test of life is determined by how much you know before the test is given. Sounds like school doesn't it? Life is like school. Some people constantly learn, grow, and achieve. Others are in school all day but never learn. Our attitude about our present circumstances goes a long way toward determining how good a grade we get. Some people are incredibly good students. The good student takes advantage of every opportunity to grow and achieve. The poor student walks through the circumstances of life and gives no attention to his or her surroundings. In a religious sense, God, through the Holy Spirit, tries to reach us and teach us every second. God speaks to us, tries to instruct us, and tries to guide us. Some persons try to tune into what God speaks about and other persons either reject God entirely or ignore God as the Great Teacher. In real life as in school, some persons pay attention and some do not.

In real life on the street, the success of our life is not determined by money in the bank, the net worth of our stock portfolio, or the amount of land and goods we own. In real life on the street, the determinant of success is our willingness to follow God's will in all the aspects of our life. Some people get a well-deserved "F" on their report card of life for they ignore God. The "F" student ignores the instructions and teachings of God. The "F" student remains doomed to a life of rebellion, crime, depression, anger, hurt, resentment, and the consequences ignoring God and His love. What the "F" student and even some "A" students do not realize is that the grade we get in life is the grade we essentially give ourselves. We all do our homework or ignore our homework. The grade on our reports handed in, the grade we get on the daily quiz, and the grade for participating in the class of life depends more upon us than any other factor. In our present day life and in our life in the future we have incredible opportunities to learn and grow.

In the future, adversity will come and fall upon us like a bad storm. What will we do? Will we sit idly by as the foundation of our life washes away or will we try to gather the water and redirect its power? Will we put gutters on our house to catch the water and direct it away from our home to protect our foundations from being undermined? Will we do advanced planning now so we can prepare for what the future brings?

In our present world, in the world of the past, and in the world of the future, ignorance is not bliss. Ignorance means disaster when tough times come. Ignorance gets us an "F" on the test in school and ignorance gets us an "F" on the test of life. It is a grave mistake to not be aware of what God expects.

It is a grave mistake to not prepare in advance for the test of life by hard studying and application of God's word. Each of us instinctively knows what material will be on the test because the questions and answers have already been given to us in nearly every aspect of life.

In these uncertain times, many people run to prophets to see what the future holds. Like a student in school who wants the answers to the test in advance, the prophecy dependent person wants to know ahead of time what will be on the test. Like a student looking for the easy way out of studying, the prophecy dependent person tries to avoid doing the hard work of preparing and studying. Many people will take their chances life and will not study or prepare for the future. Like the student in school who remains hopeful that the test will be easy and that he or she already knows the answers, many will not prepare themselves emotionally and spiritually for the tough times ahead. Perhaps you believe the test in the coming days will be a multiple choice and that you can guess right. Perhaps you can guess right on the next test, perhaps you can guess right about the test after that one. However, eventually your ignorance will catch up with you. Yes, you can take your chances. However, like school, your lack of preparation, your lack of attention, and your lax attitude will catch up with you. When we refuse to live as God wants us to live or try to get by with just a minimum of work to please Him, the tests of life eventually catch up to us. Every day is a day we go to school. Every day is an opportunity to learn as much as we can. Every day represents an opportunity to soak up the wisdom that God wants us to absorb.

There are hard times ahead. Our survival as a child of God depends upon our willingness to follow God's instructions. In the coming days, will you delight in small things, will you praise God in every circumstance, will you count your blessings one by one? In the future, will you constantly look back over your shoulder at what was in the past and bemoan your loss or will you rejoice in the joy of Christ's love of the present? Will you grieve for the "good old days" or praise God for His blessings in the here and now? Will you stop for a while, meditate on the Lord's wonderful beauty and grace, or will you be so caught up in the difficulty of your circumstances you do not see Him, hear Him, or experience Him?

In the hard times ahead, many people will lose all their worldly or material goods. All their worldly dreams and worldly aspirations will evaporate into thin air. At these moments, the Lord is constantly teaching, showing, and demonstrating that He loves us and is with us. When we lose everything, we have an opportunity to either find out how much God truly loves us or we can turn away from God and mistakenly blame Him for our misfortune. In the hard times ahead, will we pray for guidance and an opportunity to do God's will or will we pray for a restoration of worldly things? In the hard times ahead, we will have an opportunity to find out who truly loves us and cares about us. If we find out that we have no friends, will we finally learn we have a friend in Jesus? In this world, when we learn we have no earthly foundation upon which to stand, will we learn that Christ is our only firm foundation? When this world assaults us from every direction and we have no place to hide from the world's onslaughts, will we learn that Christ, the Rock of Ages past, does indeed cleft for thee? Will we learn that, in Christ, we have a shelter from the storms of life? In God's classroom of life, will we learn about the freedom that forgiveness brings or will we remain in the prison of revenge?

Will we learn anything in the coming dark days or will we be consumed and victimized by the circumstances that befall our lives? The outcome of the coming test can be determined by us today. We can write our own future. We do no need a prophet to tell us what will happen in the future because we can prepare ourselves for the test in advance. We can prepare ourselves spiritually, physically, financially, emotionally, and mentally. Each day, we can adopt an attitude of winning, regardless of how the world keeps score. In this world, we can soar above every obstacle and defeat every opponent because in this world, as a Christian, we are not called to win at the physical or worldly level. In Christ, we are called to win at His spiritual level. In Christ, when we lose our jobs, our homes, and our fortunes we still have an unending job, a home that cannot be destroyed or taken away from us, and untold wealth in heaven.

Poverty has a way of destroying the lives of those who invest in the worldly side of life. Today, poverty is in the future of many people. Poverty has a way of destroying the best men and women when they have not given all they are and all they own to Christ. What so many persons do not realize is that Christ came to earth to help us survive poverty and help us come out of poverty as a better person. When what we value in life is riches, land, gold, silver, and things, then we will surely come to learn the hard lesson that these things pass away. What we must learn is that we must make investments in Christ. We must learn that when we give Him all we are and all we own then we have a reward waiting for us in heaven that is full of glory, joy, and love. The things of earth are of no value to us when we die. The things of earth cannot be taken with us when we die. However, when we die, we can look forward to a mansion full of spiritual treasures. When we die, we can look forward to a time of untold prosperity of the heart and soul. We can look forward to a world full of treasures that will last forever.

Matthew 12:35 The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him. (NIV)

Matthew 6:19 "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (NIV)

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Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked (RSV) are taken from the HOLY BIBLE, Revised Standard Version of the Bible, Copyright © 1952 [2nd edition, 1971] by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Entire contents copyright © 1999 - 2009 by Patrick Kelly, All rights reserved.
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Shepherd's Care Ministries author and webmaster, Rev. Patrick Kelly, is affiliated through ministerial ordination with Church of God Ministries, Anderson IN 46018