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Sermon 6/11/06
Matthew 24:10-12 – In From the Cold

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In From the Cold

Many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another. Then many false prophets will rise up and deceive many, and because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold” (Matthew 24:10-12)

There are many books that have been written and a lot of sermons have been preached about the return of Jesus Christ to this earth. A great deal of emphasis has been given to the “wars” mentioned by the Lord in Matthew 24:6, and the “famines, pestilences and earthquakes” of Matthew 24:6-7. It seems like every time there is a major earthquake or a war, someone, somewhere writes a book which essentially says: “This is it, the end is here!” Some are troubled by the numbers, "666." But you should note that Jesus included these words:” “See that you are not troubled; for all these things must come to pass, but the end is NOT yet” (Matthew 24:6). He WILL return, but we are to not be overly disturbed in the meantime. However, it IS crucial for us to notice when "love" grows "cold."

Within the context of Matthew 24, you’ll find our Scriptures for today. There HAVE been occasional times in history when humanity has briefly been without wars, but even in times of “peace,” local battles have always raged. Pestilences (epidemic diseases) of one kind or another surround us – as quickly as we get rid of a disease, another one, worse than the last, takes its place. Earthquakes keep occurring, and sadly, many are killed. Instead of always focusing on natural disasters, though, let’s look at our attitudes, for something  much worse is occurring today.

Consider the early Church as revealed in the Book of Acts. Yes, they had problems, but they were also full of love, and we’ve lost much since that time. Scripture reports the early Christians “were of one heart and one soul…” (Acts 4:32). They had a deep abiding love for one another, and when you’re “one” with your brother, you’re likely to help him. Divisiveness fills the world – and fills the Church. Let’s look at an example of a change in our culture that is happening right now.

Here are excerpts from an Associated Press article, entitled “Ethics and Everest,” dated May 27, 2006: “The story (came) from the high Himalayas.  A British mountaineer desperate for oxygen had collapsed along a well-traveled route to the summit (of Mount Everest). Dozens of people walked right past him, unwilling to risk their own ascents. Within hours, David Sharp, 34, was dead. The tale was shockingan apparent display ofcallousness. Sir Edmund Hillary, who was on the team that first summitted Everest in 1953, called it ‘horrifying’ that climbers would leave a dying man.

The article went on to describe how dangerous it is to climb to places where “temperatures are so low that skin can freeze instantaneously and oxygen levels can barely sustain lifeBut, many climbers add, Sharp’s death also reflects something else: a changed ethic in what was, until a couple of decades ago… where a dying climber would be abandoned only when a rescue threatened other lives.” The Associated Press article continued, but the point for us is that “the love of many (is becoming) cold.” Even more than earthquakes, we must see that the needs of others are at least as important as our own.

Coldness should never be found in the Church. Jesus gave us the command “that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34). He continued, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” If you and your church have a critical spirit and are cold-hearted, others will decide that your Christian experience is not real.

There is a phrase in English that you have probably heard, which is: “To come in from the cold.” I looked the phrase up in “TheFreeDictionary.com” and they gave this definition: “If someone ‘comes in from the cold,’ they become part of a group or an activity which they were not allowed to join before.” And they gave examples: 1) “Turkey is now keen to ‘come in from the cold’ and join the European community.” 2) After four years away from the fashion scene, Jasper has ‘come in from the cold’ with his new designer collection.” 3) “I think that country is ‘coming in from the cold’ - they deal with the outside world a lot more these days.” 4) “The government wants to see some proof that the rebels want peace before ‘bringing them in from the cold.’” That’s pretty clear: “To come in from the cold” is to stop being an outsider. In the church it is to become part of God’s intention for you and me.

It’s time for all who purport to be Christians to “come in from the cold,” and actually love one another. A critical spirit has no place in the body of Christ. Instead we are to honestly care. You’re not really “in” Christ if you don’t share His values, and Jesus only gave us one condition for membership in His Church, which is - love!

Our verses for today are certainly worth a solid look because they are like signposts that warn us – God is not going to put up with selfishness forever. At some point He will say, “Enough” to those who abandon comrades on Mount Everest, and to those who withhold love in the Church.

In our Scriptures for today, we find that “Many will be offended” in the last days, and it is true right now. The person who insists, “I’m right and you’re wrong” - is offensive.  We “betray one another” by such attitudes. Remember that the world is watching and they are deciding whether or not to receive Christ, based on the attitudes and actions of those who are in the Church. It’s dangerous for Muslims to become Christians, and in Afghanistan recently, a man’s life was in danger because he trusted in the Lord. We WANT people everywhere to trust in Christ, but are WE willing to give up our resentments to help make it happen?

False prophets” abound in the world and what they offer is not true. However, they pretend to be something and “deceive many.” Sadly, many follow them. And this world is filled with “lawlessness.” When I was a boy, we walked everywhere, but today it’s dangerous. The Lord’s return IS near, but the real evidence is our coldness toward one another. There are many in our world who want what we have, but they don’t believe we have it. Here’s a challenge: give yourself anew to God with no reservations and no agendas. Let’s TRUST in Him - and love one another.

Father, we give our hearts and lives to You. Teach us to love. We pray that You will be seen in us and we ask for revival to come to this world.  In Jesus Name. Amen.

Ron Beckham, Pastor
Friday Study Ministries
First Church On The Net
www.FridayStudy.org
Ron@FridayStudy.org
"While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Romans 5:8)
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