Friday Counseling Issues: Aging

It happens to all of us, unless we die while we’re still young.  Today, extreme old age is to be in your 80’s or older.  Many people are working well into their 70’s, as I will unless the Lord takes me home. We’re living healthier longer if we take care of business during our active years.  Still there are issues that arise with the onset of time, and none of us are immune.

There was a picture similar to this one hanging in the hallway of the nursing home my mom lived in for the last couple of years of her life.  I love it.  There is beauty in every life stage, especially if it is a life well-lived. The grace and wisdom that comes with age replaces the fresh-faced beauty of youth when God is the moving influence in one’s life.

I’ll be talking about all sorts of things, from the medical to the emotional, financial, and relationship issues.

Please pray for wisdom for me as I research and write.

Itching Ears

Matthew 24:11-12. “And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold.”

One of the ways these false prophets and deceivers will fool many will be through the use of what my dad referred to as “entertainment preaching.” II Timothy 4:3-4:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine: but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

We have a lot of this kind of preaching going on today, preaching that makes us feel good, that tells us what we want to hear, that promises health, wealth and happiness if we just follow a particular path. Sometimes the preaching is just the vehicle for the personality.  Hundreds seem to be charmed, even thousands. Be careful. Sift everything you hear through God’s Word.

The truth is, that our love for God, for other believers, and for the lost will grow cold under this kind of preaching and teaching. The reason?  It’s all centered on self, on being happy, on being wealthy and healthy, just name it and claim it.  Self-centered Christians are not soul-conscious Christians.

We will find teachers who say what we want to hear because we have “itching ears,” which is an interesting  little phrase.  I came up with what I believe is an accurate description of the phrase, which appears only in this verse. The Greek word for itching is knetho.  It means “to rub, to scratch;” and then “to tickle,” and here to feel an “itching” for something pleasing or gratifying. It feels really good to scratch something that itches, at least right at the moment.  But if we tickle our desire to feel good about ourselves, to hear only that which makes us comfortable and not that which convicts our hearts, then we will indeed grow cold and indifferent to the things of the Lord.

The Sorrows of Israel

Matthew 24:9-10.“Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for My Name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another.”

As anti-semitism continues to crawl out from under the rocks and become vocal and physical once again, I can’t help but think about what the Jews endured in Word War II. It was beyond belief. It was horrible. And contrary to what revisionist historians want us to believe, it was true. It really happened. Talk to anyone who has visited the camps. Look at the numbers stamped on the forearms of the survivors, who are fewer in number every day. It has been nearly 70 years, after all, since the war was over.

We thought it would never be that bad again, that the horror stories arising out of Nazi Germany would never, ever be repeated now that the world is so much more enlightened.

Think again. The Jewish people have always been Satan’s primary targets, because they are God’s chosen people.  Did he choose them because they were so much better than the rest of us?  Nope. None of us deserves the privilege of being the nation through whom Messiah would come. Why He chose them is His concern, and I don’t question it.

According to these verses, what the Jews suffered in the Holocaust will pale compared to their future sorrows.  They will be hated by ALL nations; even America will turn against them, and they will suffer for His Name’s sake with no one to come to their rescue. They will even betray one another. Evil will be King for a time.

The following passages are for your own research, and there are many others that should be noted in the margins of most Bibles:

Joel 2:1-17; Hosea 5:14; Jeremiah 30:4-9; Ezekiel 21:27; Daniel 12:1; Micah 7:1-7; Habbakuk 3:16.

And here is a quote from ancient tradition, by Rabbi Jochunan, taken from Gaebelein’s “Gospel of Matthew,” p. 180.

“Seven years of trouble come before Messiah comes. The first year before the Son of David comes the prophecy of Amos (chap. 4:7) will be fulfilled. In the second year of tribulation there will be six months of famine. In the third year there will be great famine. Many men, women and children will die and the pious will be few. The law and the prophets will be forgotten by Israel. The last years will bring signs in heaven and wars and at the end of the seventh year the Son of David will come.”

That’s pretty clear, isn’t it?

The Beginning of Sorrows

Matthew 24:7-8. “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows.”

Famine, pestilence, and earthquakes–terrible as they are, they have always been a part of life on this sin-cursed earth. Is there more now than there has ever been before?  I don’t know.  I haven’t researched it, and I probably will, just to saitsfy my own curiosity.  I know we’re more aware of all these things now than we were before the age of radio, TV, computers, iPads, and cell phones.  News travels around the world with the click of a button these days, and scares us all half to death.

I want to go back up to verse 4 and comment on something I forgot to include in that post. Verses 4-26 are as yet unfulfilled, and verses 27-51; 25:1-46 will be fulfilled at the second advent and in eternity. These verses are NOT about the Rapture, when Christ will meet His Bride in the air. He will not at that point actually come back to earth for the second time. When that time comes, His feet will again touch the Mount of Olives, and there will be no doubt whatsoever Who He is.

These are not yet the end times. While it would seem as if the amount of terror and trouble is increasing around the world, it is nothing compared to what it will be during the Tribulation period. Those who believe we are now in that period of time are not doing a thorough study. There must be perfect harmony between Old Testament prophecy (e.g, Daniel), The Lord’s words here in Matthew, and the prophecies of the end of the age in Revelation. Right now in this present time, that harmony does not exist.

Jesus said, after naming famine, pestilence, and earthquakes, that these things are only the beginning of sorrows. Only the beginning.

My hope and peace are in the Lord.

Wars and Rumours of Wars

Matthew 24:6. “And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet.”

War has never ceased, from the time Cain killed his brother until today. History is the record of man’s inhumanity against man, and so it will be until the Prince of Peace comes to rule the earth. One nation, or, before nations, one people-group, has always invaded another, claiming the land as their own. It is not new. Even in the Americas, where we love to beat our chests in agony over shoving the Native Americans off their lands, it was not new before the Europeans came. The pre-European history of the Americas is a bloody and brutal  story of one tribe attacking another to claim that territory as their own as they migrated across the continent seeking new and better hunting and sustenance, building their own empires.

Such is the nature of the human heart. It still goes on. The map of Europe has been redrawn countless times. The names of the African countries change on a regular basis as new men rise to power.

Jesus told His disciples that there would continue to be wars and rumors of wars, but that this in itself was not a signal that the end times were near. This was simply the sad course of the result of the evil that resides in the human heart.

There will come a day, though, when nation shall rise against nation to a point that has not yet been seen, even in World War I or World War II. It will be terrible, and it will be final.

Final Post on Forgiveness

Well, nothing is final, really.  But for now, this will be the last in this series.

Forgiveness is a layered, complicated subject because it is so closely enmeshed with our beliefs from childhood, with what we saw modeled (or not) as we were growing up. Some people apologize very easily and receive forgiveness with grace.  Others of us find it difficult to acknowledge when we have been complete jerks, and difficult to either accept or offer complete forgiveness.  There is so much pride interwoven into the whole process.

Someone asked about what to do when you don’t really want to confront the offender, or if you feel certain that person will not respond well. It seems I may have already addressed this, but maybe not.

Luke 17:3-4 does teach us to “rebuke” the offender, and I believe that when we can, we should.  Sometimes the person has died, and it is no longer possible to confront him to his face. That is when the forgiveness is between you and God, and that settles it. When you are afraid, or reluctant, to face  your offender because you are sure he won’t care, there is still the necessity to do so, and if he surprises you and repents, then forgiveness is given.

But what if he doesn’t?  Well, we spent a lot of time on this one, and I even got a good discussion going on my Facebook page. There is also a very good article here that I think answers that question very well. For me, the bottom line here is being right with God.  Holding offence in your heart, refusing to forgive when the offender has not repented, is like the old analogy of drinking poison in hopes that the other person will be harmed by your doing so.  Not much sense in that.

If you have further questions or comments, I will be glad to address them as such. Just please keep in mind that I will not publish comments that are abusive, divisive, unkind, or that use foul language. I try to keep things civil here on my blog.

Thank you for the input you have given on this topic. I love your participation.

Deceivers

Matthew 24: 4-5. “And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in My Name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.” 

In verse  three, the disciples had asked Jesus for signs of His coming, and of the end of the world. The first answer He gave them was that there would be many who would claim to be Christ; that they (we) need to all beware of deceivers.

So how can we know who is telling the truth, and who is deceiving the people?

We have to know what the Bible says about all these things. We have to sift everything we see and hear from pulpits, on the radio, on television, on the internet. We have to be discerning, to know whether or not truth is being spoken.

Never trust the person who demands absolute loyalty, unquestioning allegiance.  There is NO biblical basis for such blind followship.  Just as the Bereans searched the scriptures daily, so must we. The only way we can detect the lie is to know the truth.

An example I’ve used before is the training of a bank teller. In order to identify counterfeit money, the trainee is given the real thing to handle, to examine by touch, by sight, even by smell. The trainee is taught exactly what a real bill looks like, what is printed on it, and the fibers of which it is made.

It is very hard to fool someone who is completely familiar with the truth.

The other day, one of my sons posted a picture of my husband’s hands. I would have known they were his hands without any caption or explanation. I’ve known those hands for over 45 years. I know without doubt that I could tell his hands from all others even if I were blindfolded.  His hands are as familiar to me as my own.

If I love my husband’s hands that much, I can’t be fooled.  If I love the Word of God even more, I’m even harder for the deceivers to fool. Study, Learn. Question. Research.  Anyone who tells you that you must not question him, ever, is a deceiver. No true man of God resists having his message sifted through the Word.