But Know This

I didn’t develop a love of reading until after my school years.  Until then, reading was simply necessary to prepare for the tests that were to come.

Some tests were announced in advance and others came unexpectedly. Both were designed to measure comprehension and ability to apply knowledge.  I remember some wonderful teachers who emphasized the importance of knowing the subject matter and I was glad they did, because learning takes effort.  So does life and tests don’t end with school.

A lot of time is invested gaining knowledge to pursue careers, but how much is given in preparing for the tests of life?  Oh, we endure them because they are thrust upon us, but are we equipped to meet them with more than reaction?  Rather than becoming a people of understanding and reason, it seems that we have resorted to emotion and vulgarity.  If you doubt that, spend a little time on social media.  Posts on just about any subject are often met with venomous responses.  Civility and respect have been lost in the dialogue and dissent over cultural ideas is quickly categorized as hate.  No one is better for it.

How have we come to fail the test of loving God with all our heart, mind and soul and our neighbors as ourselves? Could it be that we have neglected a willingness to linger in the pages of God’s Book? Could it be that the pleasurable distractions of the world have enticed us to toss His manual aside and simply accept the opinions of popular culture?

I remember a time of more civil dialogue, when people could disagree without having degrading labels assigned to them because of their convictions.  The generation that preceded mine often speak of growing up in a kinder, more respectful society.  That mindset was influenced by a general understanding of the Good Book.  Somewhere along the way, it became fashionable to replace the Word of God with the opinion of man and Truth began gathering dust on the shelf.   It has been to our detriment, because quite possibly, we may be facing our greatest test.  We’ve had ample warning that it is coming, but few take it seriously. Being ready for the Lord’s return.

In 2nd Timothy, Chapter 3, the apostle Paul writes a letter to the young pastor Timothy, who had journeyed with him.  Penned from a prison cell because of his proclamation of the Gospel, you would think the letter would be filled with despair, but it’s not.  It boldly confronts the reality of mankind’s appetite for sin and offers clear instruction to avoid such a trap. “But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come; For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God; having a form of godliness but denying its power.  And from such people turn away!”   How relevant his words are in our day.

I was struck with the boldness of Paul’s opening words of this paragraph:  “But know this”.  In other words, be prepared.  Understand the nature of man and the heart of God.  Don’t be taken by surprise or despair at the degree to which man will display his disregard for Truth as time draws to a close.

Knowing what to expect and faithfully applying truth from the Bible enables us to meet the challenges of our times with the hope of eternity.   It requires effort.   “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”  

Maybe you weren’t instructed from childhood.  Maybe you have no idea what the Good Book is all about.  It’s not too late. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge.  Take a step of faith toward Jesus Christ and let Him help you because a test is coming that you don’t want to fail.

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