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9 Fruits of the Holy Spirit (9) Fruit of Gentleness
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쏝ut the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. Gal. 5:22-23 ...

The End Time

Manmin News   No. 111
January 27, 2008

"... What will be the sign of Your coming, and of the end of the age? ... You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars ... For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and in various places there will be famines and earthquakes ..." (Matthew 24:3-14)

"The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer" (1 Peter 4:7).

When there is a pop quiz at school, students who have prepared habitually and studied in advance will do well but the unprepared will be taken aback and their grades are bound to suffer. If the latter group of students had been told of an impending quiz, they might have done a bit of studying.
By the same token, God repeatedly tells us of the last days so that we will not be taken aback at the time of the Lord's Second Advent but receive Him in joy. Even if we have not done the job of preparing ourselves as His bride up to this point, God wants us to be of sound judgment and sober spirit in preparation for the end time.

1. The Reality and Biblical Prophecies on the End Time

Through the signs revealed and foretold in Matthew 24, we know that the time of "[the Lord's] coming and ... the end of the age" is near. In spiritual terms, "the end time" and "the end of the age" are interpreted differently. "The end time" refers to the period between the Lord's Ascension and His Second Advent and "the end of the age" refers the time of His Second Advent, which can be further broadly signify to the specific generation at the time of His Second Advent.
With the exchange between Jesus and His disciples – His answers to the questions posed by the disciples featured in Matthew 24 – let us examine how close we are to "the end of the age."
In Matthew 24:6, Jesus tells us, "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars. See that you are not frightened, for those things must take place, but that is not yet the end." There had been wars from generation to generation but the "wars" of which Jesus spoke is not an armed conflict but worldwide wars in which many nations are involved. Furthermore, when Jesus said "You will be hearing of wars and rumors of wars" – mentioning "wars" twice – He intended to point specifically to the coming of two world wars. As the history of the world plainly demonstrates, there were two world wars in the 20th century. As more than six decades have passed since the end of World War II in 1945, we are that much closer to the end of the age.
In the following verse, Jesus tells us that "in various places there will be famines and earthquakes." Upon hearing that, one may ask, 'In such affluent times, who goes to bed hungry at night?'
According to a 2007 study, more than 854 million people around the world fall asleep every night in starvation while more than 40,000 children across the globe die every day from diseases inflicted by malnutrition. The number of those suffering from extreme starvation grows by 4 million year after year and the main causes are the skyrocketing prices of crops brought on by drought and conflicts.
The frequency and the magnitude of natural disasters are also on the rise as the result of pollution and global warming brought forth by mankind's destruction of the nature. Such calamities as drought, floods, earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes and the like, which modern science and technology cannot even predict, have become commonplace while the damage caused by earthquakes are increasing, which translates into greater frequency and scale of the earthquakes.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:14, "This gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all the nations, and then the end will come." The gospel sprung out from Israel and has been spread to "the whole world" including Europe, the Americas, Asia, and Africa, but has ironically not been shared with the Orthodox Jews in Israel. Refusing to recognize Jesus, whom their ancestors crucified, as the Savior, they are still waiting for the coming of the Messiah and for that reason Israel is referred to as "the remotest part of the earth," the final destination of the gospel. God began spreading the gospel from "the remotest part of the earth" and will allow the gospel of Jesus Christ to be shared even with Orthodox Jews.
After telling His disciples of the signs of "the end of the age," Jesus adds in Matthew 24:44, "For this reason you also must be ready; for the Son of Man is coming at an hour when you do not think He will." As the time of "the end of the age" has already been chosen by God and all of us are en route to that point in history. However, no one knows the last day of his life. We cannot afford to think, 'I have some time. Let me enjoy this while I still can.' As we never know what will happen to us, we must always "be of sound judgment and sober spirit" in preparation.

2. The Parable of the Ten Virgins

With "The Parable of the Ten Virgins" in Matthew 25, Jesus stresses a prepared life of faith. In the Parable, He has likened Himself, the returning Lord, to the "bridegroom" and the believers to "virgins."
Ten virgins waited for the coming of the bridegroom. While the foolish five took their lamps but no oil with them, the prudent five waited with oil in flasks along with their lamps. As the bridegroom delayed, all ten of them became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight, however, they all woke up at the announcement of his coming. The prudent five could greet the bridegroom with the lit lamps but the foolish five then had to purchase oil. During that time, the door to the wedding feast was shut and the foolish five came back with the oil, begging for the bridegroom to open the door.
In the Parable, "midnight" signifies the darkest time of the night when everyone is deeply asleep. Even in spiritual terms, nighttime is synonymous with "darkness," which in turn is translated into the world's sin and evil of which the enemy devil is in charge. In other words, the fact that the bridegroom in the Parable came at midnight signifies that the Lord will return when the world is drenched in sin.
In our own generation, as lawlessness has increased and love grown cold, it is becoming all the more difficult to find true goodness and love. Even in such a generation, God has led us time and again to prepare the oil as the prudent five brides did. Yet, are any of you still in idle, spiritual slumber, comforting yourself, 'It's not tomorrow. I still have some time'? If you do not wake up and progressively transform yourself, the measure of your faith a year or two from now will remain the same and it will be difficult for you to maintain that degree of faith.

3. Proper Attitude in Preparing for The End Time

As we are at a critical juncture to be spiritually awake, God has designated "The End Time" as the first church-wide prayer topic for Year 2008. No matter how much or often they are warned of the last days, those spiritually asleep will be quick to think, 'The Lord is slow in coming.' When the Lord does come, they will be the first to say, 'He has come too soon!'
1 Thessalonians 5:2-3 tell us, "For you yourselves know full well that the day of the Lord will come just like a thief in the night. While they are saying, 'Peace and safety!' then destruction will come upon them suddenly like labor pains upon a woman with child, and they will not escape." Those with faith and have set "whole spirit" as their goal will lament at the passing of time and make every effort to cast off flesh and enter spirit. They will also be more faithful in their duties to build their heavenly rewards.
The time has come to finish the preparation of oil. You need to toil and make money to purchase oil. By the same token, this rule applies to the preparation of spiritual oil, which is the same as "fullness of the Holy Spirit" and "prayer." Becoming filled with the Holy Spirit through prayer is the preparation of spiritual oil. You need to earnestly and diligently call out to God in prayer to become filled with the Holy Spirit and you can then receive from above the strength to fight and overcome sin, live by God's Word, stay away from unrighteousness and evil and instead dwell in righteousness and goodness.
On the contrary, the lack of prayer in one's life will result in his loss of the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Just as the fire will grow weak and be put out when the amount of oil decreases, the loss of the fullness of the Holy Spirit will result in the permeation of darkness in one's heart. Without the strength to overcome the world, he will begin to compromise with the world, sin, and face trials and afflictions. Some may say, 'I could repent again and turn away,' but we do not have the time to repent and turn away now. For that reason, we have to make sure we never run out of oil.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, 1 Peter 4:7 reminds us, "The end of all things is near; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the purpose of prayer." God wants us to take care of our heart once more, prepare the oil, and our spirit, soul, and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:23).
May each of you call out to God in prayer with fervor, be filled with the Holy Spirit day in and day out, wash the robe of your heart, and embrace the Lord in gladness, in the name of Jesus Christ I pray!




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