12 were slaughtered in Aurora, Colorado
27 died at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut
3 dead in a mall shooting in Oregon
125 died in Hurricane Sandy and her aftermath
In fact, there were 16 mass shootings this year which, together, took 84 lives.
The great winter storm of 2012 claimed 6 lives
Lies, name calling and rancor marked our national political system
The economy still struggles and many are still without jobs.
I could go on and on and on some more but you get the point. This has been a tough year in many ways. 2013 holds promise for better times or at least that is what we tell ourselves. But the truth is that there will be bad things happening in 2013. We shouldn’t be surprised, Satan is the “ruler of this world” (John 12:31). Although the evil one is greatly restricted his influence is great and his arrogance unabated.
Truth teaches that we will suffer in this world at the hands of the evil people. By inspiration Paul said,
“Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted, while evil people and impostors will go on from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived” (1 Timothy 3:12, 13)
We are pilgrims (1 Peter 2:11) and just passing through this old world. As the song continues, “my treasures are laid up, somewhere beyond the blue.” Trouble comes but we are prepared.
What are we to do? If this world is bad and only going to get worse, what can we do? How to we survive? Paul answers immediately after his warning above:
” But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work” (1 Timothy 3:14-17).
There are three keys for continued life in this sinful world.
Continue and Do Not Give Up
Paul tells Timothy that he already knows and has been taught the truth. It came through the teaching of his mother and his grandmother and through his association with the “sacred writings.” For Timothy, that would have been what we call the Old Testament. Timothy must not change because of the times. Instead he was to continue.
That’s good advice for us too. We know the sacred writings and we ought remain in them. We have firmly believed and no matter what may happen in some place near or far we do not change. To surrender is beyond our comprehension.
Know the Book
Do you notice the very central place given to Scripture? We read of both sacred writings and Scripture. Both are the same and are first formed in the mind of God (1 Corinthians 2:11) and then given to man through the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21).
The necessity of knowing the truth cannot be overstated. We must take it in (Psalm 119:11) and dwell upon it. I fear that most do not give adequate place in their lives to Bible reading. A horrible pestilence of biblical illiteracy has settled upon us. That ignorance allows and sustains false teaching which arises from the devil himself. If we are to stand against the troubles of this world, we must know the book.
Any soldier knows that his equipment is vital to the success of his mission and even to his own survival. There is no difference with the disciple. We must equip ourselves for combat knowing that Satan will assault us at every turn (Ephesians 6:16, 1 Peter 5:8). There are many tools with which we must equip ourselves (Ephesians 6:10-18) but none so important as a knowledge of the truth of God’s word. Everything we know about God, about Jesus, about sin and salvation, comes from the word of God. We cannot live without it.
We make so many preparations in this life. We prepare for emergencies with insurance policies, we prepare for retirement with Roths and IRAs, we prepare for a high quality of life with gym memberships and well prepared meals. Do we also prepare for life and the spiritual troubles that are certain to come our way? We must be equipped.
We welcome 2013 with open arms and great hope. We seek more followers for the kingdom this year. We seek to spread the word further. But we know that troubles are on the horizon. Nevertheless we do not faint for out hope is in an unfailing Lord who gave us all!