Category Archives: exhortation

Guidelines for Living in Tough Times


When the hard times hit and the pressure is on, how will you respond? According to Ephesians 4, we both can and should exercise humility, gentleness, and patience.

When dealing with our fellow Christians, we are to put up with their nonsense. We are to respond kindly to them when they are acting a bit odd, or a bit liberal (if we are conservative), or a bit conservative (if we are liberal). That’s my take on the phrase “bearing with one another in love” (Eph. 4:2, NET).

This is, clearly, an area I’m still working on. If you’ve seen my Facebook page, you know I get annoyed over feeling my “tribe” and I are being misrepresented. I do try to be fair—which includes being annoyed when those I disagree with are misrepresented—but I’m sure my level of annoyance varies based on how much I understand, love, or agree with someone.

Nevertheless, Scripture is plain: our unity with one another is to be clear and strong. We are to work at becoming and remaining united.

Paul identifies the “ones” of our faith, around which we can—if we will—unite:

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you too were called to the one hope of your calling, one Lord [Jesus], one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Ephesians 4:4-6)

How do we walk out this unity with one another? Skip on down to the end of Ephesians 4, and you’ll find these challenging commands:

speak the truth (Eph. 4:25)

Be angry and [yet] do not sin (4:26)

let no unwholesome word come out of your mouth (4:29)

put away every kind of bitterness, anger, wrath, quarreling, and evil, slanderous talk (4:31)

be kind to one another, compassionate, forgiving one another, just as God in Christ also forgave you. (4:32)

Are you up for this challenge? Let us unite around the “ones,” my beloved brothers and sisters. Let us find a way to move forward in unity—especially since we know that tough times are just around the next corner.


Scripture quoted by permission. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the NET Bible® copyright ©1996-2016 by Biblical Studies Press, L.L.C. All rights reserved. Brackets mine, added for clarity.

Harbinger of Doom and Bliss

Okay, I can see you looking at the tagline for our blog, “harbinger of doom and bliss.” You’re saying—aren’t you?—“I get the harbinger of doom bit. Hard times are coming on this rotten old world.” “But,” you continue, “BUT … how do you also get to be a harbinger of bliss? If language means anything, then doom and bliss are antonyms. They’re polar opposites.”

My thought on this is yes, doom and bliss are opposites. Yet both destinies are approaching the human race, and at the same speed.

Doom is coming. Bliss is coming. Exactly how soon, no one knows as of this writing. Within the next decade or two, many students of holy writ suspect. Certainly within the lifetime of those who are young adults today, most conservative teachers of prophecy would opine. But the fact is that no one knows. Whether they are near or far away, they are coming. Both doom and also bliss are coming upon the human race.

It will appear at first that doom has fallen upon God’s people. Yet in the end, after the Antichrist has been defeated and dethroned, after Satan has been bound, then those who cling to God will come out ahead. Way ahead. So superabundantly blessed are they that the word “bliss” becomes quite appropriate as a description of their state—their ongoing state that will never be taken away from them.

Mirroring this experience, the earth dwellers and others who follow the Antichrist will do well for a while, materially. They will receive property. They will be cared for in times of scarcity. Yet they will suffer much more for much longer than the redeemed do. They have nothing permanent but loss, regret, and misery. There will be no “second chance” for them. Those who take the Mark of the Beast, which identifies them as belonging to the Antichrist, have only agony ahead of them as the centuries roll on. The term “doom” never fitted the fate of a group more than it fits the fate of this group. They will have forfeited all joy. Their existence will be nothing but prolonged agony. They are the damned, who are also the doomed.

While we stand and proclaim the truth found in God’s holy Word, there are two destinies I see for mankind, for mankind is divided into two factions. Those for God, who have humbled themselves and received His offer of new life, can—and should!—look forward to eternal bliss. Those opposed to His righteous rule over their lives can look forward only to short-term enjoyments followed by lifetime after lifetime of doom, a doom that just keeps rolling, a regret that never leaves, a pain that never stops. We must warn them before it’s too late, before the “night … when no man can work” (Luke 9:4b).

So we are harbingers, you see, of both doom and bliss.

Do We Weep?

We have advance knowledge. But do we weep?

The Lord’s sure word of prophecy never fails. But do we weep?

Many around us are already hurting, lacking help. But do we weep?

We see dark times approaching for our nation and our world. But do we weep?

We know that families will be torn apart, perhaps even our own. But do we weep?

We know that tears can move our Father’s heart. But do we weep?

Precious Savior, grant us hearts of flesh. That we may weep.

For the Night Is Coming

Finish this verse:

“Work, for the night is coming …”

Did you say, “… when man’s work is done”? If so, you’ve quoted a popular old hymn by Annie Coghill. It’s a gem that urges followers of the Messiah to work hard. It also alludes to our heavenly rewards, which is a topic much neglected in modern songs, to the detriment of the Body of Christ.

Here are all three stanzas of the poem by Mrs. Coghill, which was first published in 1854 —

1 Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the morning hours;
Work while the dew is sparkling;
Work ‘mid springing flowers;
Work when the day grows brighter,
Work in the glowing sun;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man’s work is done.

2 Work, for the night is coming,
Work through the sunny noon;
Fill brightest hours with labor,
Rest comes sure and soon;
Give every flying minute
Something to keep in store;
Work, for the night is coming,
When man works no more.

3 Work, for the night is coming,
Under the sunset skies;
While their bright tints are glowing,
Work, for daylight flies;
Work, till the last beam fadeth,
Fadeth to shine no more;
Work, while the night is darkening,
When man’s work is o’er.

This poem encourages diligence, a character trait that I’m working on – though not as diligently as I perhaps should! It’s a wonderful work. However, I differ rather sharply from Mrs. Coghill in my interpretation of the verse this poem has as its foundation, Luke 9:4.

Here is that verse, in context, from the English Standard Version translation —

3Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. 4We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. 5As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” 6Having said these things, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud 7and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (John 9:3-7, ESV)

When the Lord Yeshua (Jesus of Nazareth) said, “… night is coming, when no one can work,” did He mean, “Death is approaching, when I will no longer work”?

This interpretation seems unlikely. First, He did not stop working when He died. We know, for example, that He is seated on the throne that His Father is graciously sharing with Him. From there, He is praying for His followers continually.

Indeed, the author of Hebrews argues in chapter 7 that Yeshua’s priesthood is superior to that of the Aaronic priests precisely because He continues to work for us (but the Aaronic priests were all stopped from further work by their deaths).

Consequently, he [Yeshua] is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. (Heb. 7:25, ESV)

Could the Lord have meant, “Your death is approaching, after which you will no longer work?” Perhaps. That appears to be the way that the poet and many others interpret this verse.

Yet the death of the saints cannot permanently end their work. It merely provides a break, a rest before the next assignment.

What seems to be in view is the “night” of persecution. We must work for God’s Kingdom while it is “day,” while we have the chance to pray, meet, teach, and witness. At some point in this world’s history, working for God’s Kingdom will be impossible due to the most severe persecution ever.

For then there will be great tribulation, such as has not been from the beginning of the world until now, no, and never will be. And if those days had not been cut short, no human being would be saved. But for the sake of the elect those days will be cut short. (Matt. 24:21-22, ESV)

May we, regardless of which rapture camp we happen to fall into, take seriously our all-too-limited opportunity to work for the Kingdom of God and of the Lamb! Pray for us in this regard, dear brothers and sisters, and we will pray for you.

If you are regretting your missed opportunities, as I am, then make corrections now. Work! The night is coming!

After that, there will be the grand day of rejoicing and rewards. What rewards will they deserve who have been slack in their work for the One who has given them His all?

Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright 2011 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Brackets mine.