Ministry Comments

Christ Tells Us Why No One Can Be Really Prepared For What Is Ahead

In a recent sermon I started by saying, “You do not have enough of God’s spirit to face what is before us, nobody does.” Christ tells us why no one can be really prepared for what is ahead: “For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been since the beginning of the world until this time, no, nor ever shall be.” (Matt. 24:21)

These are Christ’s own words. In the years ahead the world will be facing a time so dangerous mankind will be helpless against the powers that are to be unleashed. We do not know when the events of the Tribulation will overtake the earth; but we can know and watch the trends in the world that culminate in the Tribulation. These trends reflect the troubles that have plagued mankind throughout history. They are, by and large, a result of mankind’s sin – his utter refusal to keep God’s laws. These constant evils traced throughout history are never defeated; and only at times, held at bay so as not to destroy mankind.

In Matthew 24 Christ lists these mostly man-caused evils for all to see. They are described in Matthew 24:4-7as religious deception – that is teaching a false religion but using Christ’s name – wars and kingdoms fighting kingdoms, famines, pestilences, and even what we call natural disasters – earthquakes. Christ makes it clear that he was describing only the beginning of mankind’s troubles, and he was not describing the end to man’s rule or sorrows at that time. (Matt. 24:8)

Christ also makes it clear, as quoted in verse 21, that in this prophecy he is describing a time when these cataclysmic events will culminate in the Tribulation. In Matthew 24 the Tribulation is only given a brief description. Christ, through the apostles’ writings, fills in some of the picture of mankind’s unsolvable ills. However, before the death of the last apostle, Christ revealed these prophecies with much greater detail in the Book of Revelation. In the Book of Revelation Christ interpreted the prophecies of Matthew 24 and the parallel prophecies in Luke 21 and Mark 13.

However, before giving the greater detail, Christ said these prophecies will “shortly take place” (Rev. 1:1). As people of our modern age, we tend to think this statement gives a measure of time, but this is wrong. It is not a measure of time in the sense of days or months. It is a description of the suddenness of destruction that will come because the prophesied end time events will have built such a huge momentum they will suddenly overpower the earth and bring on the most destructive “tsunami” to ever hit the globe.

“And unless those days be shortened, no flesh would be saved” (Matt. 24:22). This scripture goes on to state that the elect will be saved during this time of worldwide upheaval. To be one of the elect it is necessary to be preserved by keeping God’s commandments during this time of unprecedented disaster. These times will “test all those that dwell on the earth” (Rev.3:10).

What Christ warned about in Revelation will also test the Church. To persevere in keeping God’s ways and to live by every word of God, we must be led by the spirit of God. Nothing but God’s spirit can give us the powerful and unwavering Faith we will need to see us through the terrible times ahead. Therefore, we must use the weapons and tools God gives us NOW as we watch the world race toward the Tribulation. Through Bible study, prayer, fasting, sermons, and fellowship we can grow in His spirit. With His spirit powerfully working in our minds, we can overcome the time of testing that will bring the world to its knees. Right now we must be asking God for the help of His spirit to be prepared. If we are doing what we need to be doing, God will pour out more of His spirit to us as those days draw near.

We all need to keep in mind the very simple statement that Christ said, “See, I have told you beforehand” (Matt 24:25).

Recently I gave a sermon and discussed the prophecies of Matthew 24 and how they are explained by the seals of Revelation 6. I have set the following scriptures in a chart that reflects those connections.


In Luke 18:8 Christ asks the rhetorical question, “Nevertheless, when the son of man comes, will he really find faith on the earth.” The answer to Christ’s question is “yes”, because Christ says elsewhere that there will be an “elect” on the earth when he returns. Christ asks this rhetorical question in the context of teaching his disciples about persistence in prayer (see Luke 17:22).

This account of Christ’s teaching is not just about persistence. It ties the parable about persistence in prayer to the faith of the one who is praying. It teaches us that we should have the faith that God will always answer our prayers, and therefore we should “always pray and not lose heart” (Luke 18:1). Being human though we ask ourselves, does God always hear and answer our prayers?

The whole point of the parable in Luke 18 is that God always answers the prayers of a Christian, his own elect (vs. 7). As God’s own elect we need to understand and recognize God’s answers to prayer. God only answers our prayers in a way that increases our faith, and for this to happen, we must understand His answers.

In answering our prayers God uses three basic approaches. The first is the one humans would choose for God to use every time. It is the immediate “yes”. In this situation we pray for God to deliver us from a trial and he does it speedily, in a moment. In a moment, that very day, the financial crisis fades away; or the car battery immediately returns to life so we can get home. Humanly, that is how we like prayers to be answered. As humans we like things settled, wrapped up in a nice neat package with God’s obvious “yes”; however, we know that will not always be the case.

To be realistic, we know that immediate answers seldom come, and we know in our hearts why. If God answered every prayer with an immediate “yes”, there would be no need for faith. One of the most basic purposes of prayer is to build faith, lasting faith, and that means being resolute in prayer. The parable of the persistent woman in Luke 18 teaches that if our prayer is not answered quickly, we must exercise faith by continuing to seek God’s answer. This scenario describes God’s second approach.

God’s second approach to answering is “when the time is right for you.” God doesn’t have preprogrammed or boilerplate answers to prayer. God has specific answers to our specific prayers that are perfectly prepared for us as individuals. God knows our strengths, our weaknesses, our needs, and our hearts. And there are no two individuals exactly alike. God’s answer to an individual’s prayer is perfectly crafted for that person alone. Only God has that wisdom. He knows the right answer and timing that will build faith and develop righteous character. Therefore, comparing ourselves and the answers we receive to answers our fellow Christians receive is wrong. While hearing about a fellow Christian’s answered prayer is inspiring and it can teach us lessons about God’s blessings, it does not necessarily apply to our situation or to us.

If we are not ready to receive God’s perfect answer to our prayer, isn’t it God’s wisdom to delay the answer until we are ready. God knows when and where the answer will have the desired effect of strengthening our faith. That may mean that God will continue to work with us to prepare us for the answer. Preparing for the answer equates to God working with us through more prayer and experience until one day we realize we have come to the answer of the original prayer. Such a situation will increase faith if we stop to consider the perfect path God has brought us down in answering the prayer.

There is a third basic answer to prayer that we need to recognize. That answer is “no”. The “no” may be immediate and clear. Or it may not come until you and God have explored the entire subject over a period of time through prayer. That means God hears and listens to your reasoning concerning the matter during the time that you persist in prayer. It is not wrong to try to convince God that your view on the matter is correct.

“Put me in remembrance; let us contend together; state your case, that you may be acquitted.” (Isaiah 43:26)

But when the final decision is made, we need to recognize and accept the answer, even when it is “no”. Paul discusses his own experience with such a situation in 2nd Corinthians 12:7.

God always hears and answers the prayers of His people. We should never doubt that He will answer, and therefore we must always continue in prayer. However, as Christians and His children, we need to build faith by recognizing God’s answers to our prayers; and that His answers are specifically and perfectly crafted for us.


Recently a relative sent me pictures taken from America’s national archives of life during the depression years of the 1930’s and 40’s.  They were pictures from across America of our distressed citizens going about their lives during tough times.  Many of the pictures portrayed people in ordinary settings that demonstrated their social activities, their work, and their family life.  I noticed it was rare to see someone smiling.  The quality of life was in most instances very grim in comparison to what we enjoy today.  I could relate to some of what I saw.  I was born in 1946 and things weren’t so great when I was a child either.  I see similar pictures of my very early life with family around me.  No one was smiling much then either.  But things soon began to change.

I have read stories about some of my ancestors.  They came to America in the early 1600’s, arriving in a boat from Holland.  They were not wealthy by any means, and their first home in the new world was most likely in a root cellar, dug into the ground.  That sounds so foreign to how we live, but those people were willing to put themselves through great deprivation and hardship to attain the wonderful opportunities they hoped were waiting for them.  It is my understanding they found what they were looking for, and they became a reasonably successful family. 

America, unlike most nations, was founded by people like my ancestors who were not only looking for opportunity but were also fleeing oppression and religious persecution.  The nation was given stability by those wise enough to establish her laws upon Biblical principles, and was given strength by God’s favor.  Many of our citizens who have served this country are quick to recognize that today. Though she was not perfect, America excelled because she acknowledged God’s protection – our national motto clearly states, “In God we trust.”  And many still proudly proclaim “One nation under God” as they recite their national Pledge of Allegiance.  Many proclaim this, but too many are forgetting their humble beginnings as they allow a different spirit of greed, perverseness, and rebellion to sweep over our land.

With Thanksgiving coming along in just a few days, maybe it’s time we give thought to how much living in America has done for us.  This is a land designed to have long arms that can embrace the many who are seeking a better life. Aren’t we all living proof of her generosity, no matter how we arrived on her shores?  I say that, believing America was planned by our creator to give comfort and blessings to those He knew would be longing for freedom and opportunity and who would be willing to work hard for it.  The nation has shed vast quantities of blood in order to secure those privileges for all her citizens. 

Thanksgiving is a time set aside by our own people to turn inward and reflect upon the blessings we have received.  It’s a pause we need in our busy lives that begs the question – To whom and for what are we thankful?  We should all try to answer that, and as we do, it wouldn’t hurt to take a look at those pictures I mentioned earlier.  They are amazing and also very sobering. You can find them at  I hope you will take a moment to look at them. It just might change your outlook for the coming year.