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Watch 2022 online sermons » Dr. David Jeremiah » David Jeremiah - In a World of Disasters, BE CONFIDENT

David Jeremiah - In a World of Disasters, BE CONFIDENT

David Jeremiah - In a World of Disasters, BE CONFIDENT
David Jeremiah - In a World of Disasters, BE CONFIDENT
TOPICS: The World of the End, End times, Disaster, Confidence

I don't know if you've ever wanted to visit a distant planet or to feel like you've been on one. Well, if you'd like to do that, take a vacation, Yellowstone National Park, the terrain is otherworldly, and, at times, you feel like you're on the set of a science fiction movie. Pays to remember, when you go to Yellowstone, that you're walkin' on top of an active super-volcano. In 2021, 2,773 earthquakes were recorded in the Yellowstone Area. Reporter Brad Plumer, of "The New York Times," explains, "Lurking beneath Yellowstone National Park is a reservoir of hot magma, five miles deep, fed by a gigantic plume of molten rock welling up from hundreds of miles below". What would happen if the volcano blew? Plumer wrote that "a major eruption would spew ash for thousands of miles, and it would make Mount Saint Helens look like a hiccup".

Natural disasters are a part of our world today, but the Bible says they will be a part of the Great Tribulation and of the days that come before and after the Rapture of Jesus Christ. They aren't waiting until the end of history. We're seeing some of them even today. According to our Lord's message on Mount Olivet, these elements, earthquakes, famines, plagues, disasters, will continue to increase in intensity and frequency as we get closer to the day of our Lord's return, so that brings us to our Lord's next prediction in Matthew 24. We've already heard that there's going to be deception. "See that you be not deceived," Jesus said, and there's gonna be wars and rumors of wars, but then Jesus says this. He says, "There will be famines and pestilences and earthquakes in various places".

What does that mean for the future, and what does that mean to us now? In other words, the world of the end will increasingly be filled with devastation and disaster and all the things that go with that. Let's begin with this clear understanding that global disasters are unavoidable. You say, "Well, there have always been national disasters, Pastor, so what's the big deal"? Well, every century has had famines. Every century has had pestilence and earthquakes, but the answer lies in the birth-pains principle that we earlier learned, and you remember that the world of the end will be like a woman in travail for the birth of the baby and that the pains will be more frequent and more intense. The Bible tells us that these things that Jesus is talking about, which have always been somewhat a part of our culture, will become more frequent and more intense as we move toward the coming of the Lord.

That's what you have to remember. It's the birth pain principle. The women will have no problem remembering that, but you guys need to work a little harder on that than they do. The first thing that he says is going to happen is there will be famines. Standing on the Mount of Olivet, Jesus used a frightening word, a word which, to his disciples, recalled a host of Old Testament stories. He said, "There will be famines". That wasn't a strange thing to the people Jesus was talking to, those four disciples. Peter, James, John, and Andrew, they listened to the Lord speak, and they probably thought about the famine that sent the Israelites to Egypt at the end of Genesis or the famine that drove Naomi and her family to Moab, in the book of Ruth.

But notice what Jesus said in Matthew: "For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. And there will be famines and pestilences". That reminds us of the judgments of Revelation chapter 6. You should read them sometimes because they parallel almost exactly what Jesus said. They go in exactly the same order. It's uncanny when you see it. The global hunger index, which is compiled and published in humanitarian organizations actually use the language of Revelation chapter 6, in one of their writings. I thought this was amazing. Once in a while, the Bible breaks through in unlikely places, and in an online report, called "Armed Conflict and the Challenge of Hunger," the index reported, "War and famine, the two fearsome horsemen, have long ridden side by side," right out of the book of Revelation. "Armed conflict disrupts food systems".

So you can see how, when there's wars and rumors of wars, then one of the results of that will be the disruption of food distribution. Can I get a witness? And then, all of a sudden, when people can't get food, and nutrition goes away, then you have sickness, pestilence. The writer of the report made the observation that "hunger is somehow different from other human stresses. Food and famines strike a deep emotive chord, even among people who have never personally faced starvation. Around the world, people believe that a government that cannot feed its people has forfeited its legitimacy". Hunger lurks near to the surface in America. One organization found that "nearly 1.5 million New York City residents face food insecurity, including one in four children," and according to this report, "14% of America's military families are food insecure".

Something's goin' on. The Bible says, more frequent, more intense as we get to the time of the Lord's return. And then the Bible talks about plagues. Once again, has there ever been a time when this is more appropriate for us to talk about? "And there will be pestilences". And the word there is the word "loismos". It's a term that describes maladies of seasonal sicknesses. Rather, the pestilence Jesus predicted are huge in scale and impact, and they will sweep over large regions of the world and be difficult to control, and the Bible says there's a strong connection between famine and pestilence. If you go through the Scripture, you will see those two things connected more than once. For instance, in describing the curses that would befall the nation of Israel if they rejected God, Moses wrote, "They shall be wasted with hunger and devoured by pestilence".

Threatened by enemies, King Jehoshaphat of Judah declared his faith in God by saying, "If disaster comes upon us, sword, judgement, pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this temple and in Your presence, for Your name is in this temple, and we will cry out to You in our affliction, and You will hear us and save us". So this isn't a random connection. War results in food shortage, and wherever food is scarce, people get nutritionally deprived. So public health suffers, which creates an environment for disease to flourish, and the 20th century has had its share of these issues. Began with the Spanish flu pandemic, which killed more than 40 million people around the world; then the Asian flu and the Hong Kong flu both resulted in more than a million deaths in the '50s and '60s; then the HIV-AIDS epidemic has brought an additional 35 million deaths and is still raging.

In the 21st century, we have already seen swine flu, SARS, MERS, Ebola, and COVID-19. So what does that mean? If I had been Jesus, I might have thought advancing medical progress would eradicate disease, given enough time in history, given all the intellectual wisdom that everybody has, but Jesus knew differently, and in a world of increasing medical miracles, disease has not been eliminated or eradicated. Instead, sickness is more prevalent than ever, and the trend lines are not encouraging. We are making progress against some diseases, but as soon as we fix one, another comes that we hadn't expected, and so it seems like we're always chasing a disease that's frightening to us all. And then what about earthquakes?

I gotta tell you a little earthquake story. When I was a pastor in Fort Wayne, back in the days before we came here, and we found out that this church wanted us to come to California, my wife and I struggled deeply with this because we had started that church, and everything in that church, we'd been a part of, and we thought we'd be there for our lives, but God had different plans, and among the discussions were some of the things about California. I'll be honest, and I have to tell you this: We talked a little bit about how crazy everybody was out here. Now we're a part of it, so we can't talk about that anymore, but the other thing we talked about often was, you know, we had tornadoes in Indiana, but in California, they had earthquakes. Earthquakes are kind of scary.

And I remember, one time, particularly, as we were getting close to the decision whether to come here or not, we were sitting in our little house, not too far from the church we had started, and we were upstairs. Donna and I were in the little study I had built, which was in the room over the garage, and we were talkin' about whether we should come here or not, and then, all of a sudden, I said, "What in the world are those kids doin' downstairs"? And then, it suddenly dawned on us that our kids weren't downstairs, and the next day, on the front page of the Fort Wayne newspaper was the announcement that we had an earthquake in Fort Wayne, and it became apparent to us that God can send earthquakes anyplace he wants, and it also was a reminder to me that it took me an earthquake to get to California.

So earthquakes are a part of the future, they're a part of the present, but there's some interesting things about earthquakes that we should talk about while we're looking at this passage of Scripture. When God created the world, he designed it with a molten core of boiling magma, covered by a mantle nearly 2,000 miles deep. On top of that, our surface lands and seas rest on tectonic plates, and, as you know, sometimes those plates shift. According to Revelation 16:18, when the angel pours out the final bowl of wrath on this world, there will be a great earthquake, "such a mighty and great earthquake as had not occurred since men were on the earth".

The ultimate end of what happens here as we know it today will be a magnificent earthquake. Isaiah 2:19, says, "They shall go into the holes of the rocks, and the caves of the earth, from the terror of the Lord and the glory of His Majesty, when He arises to shake the earth mightily". And I get this picture in my mind: God has been so patient with us, he's done everything he can do to try to get us right, and he's gonna just grab hold of us and shake us. "I'm done with you". And you can understand his frustration with our unwillingness to do what he asked us to do. When Jesus died on Calvary, do you remember what happened? The ground of Jerusalem quaked. Not anything like what is gonna quake when he comes back the second time, but the ground shook.

In special times throughout history, there have been earthquakes that have accentuated what was happening. In the Old Testament, earthquakes are associated with God's power and his judgment, and when the Lord descended to Mount Sinai prior to getting the law, do you remember what happened? "Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice".

Go through the Scripture. When you see an earthquake, somethin' important is goin' on. It's kind of like, okay, pay attention to this: Jesus on the cross, Moses gettin' the law, and there are others. And when the Lord appeared to Elijah on the mountain, centuries later, there was an earthquake and a still small voice. You know the stories. Psalm 18:7, says, "Then the earth shook and trembled, the foundations of the hills quaked and were shaken, because God was angry".

Now listen to me carefully: Winds come and go at random, and waves come and go at random. Much of the natural world is flexible and transitory, but the earth is not. Earthquakes are a specific sign of God's power and the Creator's control over creation. What is more grounded than the ground? For several years now, scientists have been warning about the possibility of superquakes. Now I have got you sufficiently scared, so you will listen to the rest of what I'm gonna say. All right, what you need to understand is that global disasters are unavoidable. You can't stop them. You can't stop famine. I mean, individually, you can do some things to help, and we'll talk about that, but here, again, I want to insert this thought: It is not about us trying to fix the circumstances. It's about the circumstances fixin' us, makin' us better people.

If we're not careful, all of this will make us shake, but the way to combat the fear of natural disaster is by supernatural discipleship which allows the Holy Spirit to flood your life and my life with encouragement and confidence and hope, and if you'll listen carefully during these next few moments, I wanna tell you some of the things that can happen to us, during the days that we're living in, that are not things we should turn our head away from, but we should concentrate on.

First of all, we should be reminded of the confidence God gives us in his protection. God is revealed as someone who watches over his people, keeping them safe in the midst of danger. Throughout the Bible, he's described in these following terms: He's our shield, he's our fortress, he's our hiding place, he's our keeper, he's our refuge, he's our rock, he's our shade, he's our shelter, and he's our stronghold. Those are pretty good words if you're lookin' for hope in the midst of uncertainty. The Lord told Abraham, "Do not be afraid, Abram, for I will protect you, and your reward will be great". The psalmist added these words: "The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger, so why should I tremble"? Zechariah wrote, "The Lord of Heaven's Armies will protect his people".

Over 100 years ago, Anna Kay Scott was on a primitive mission field when an earthquake occurred. She told about it in her autobiography. She wrote, "It was January 10, 1869, and we experienced a very severe shock of earthquake. I had just closed my Bible class of young men and was sitting quietly, reading letters from the dear home people when I heard the rumbling as of a distant freight train, and soon, the house began to rock, and the frail bamboo walls began to bend, and then there was crash after crash as cupboards and wardrobes and mirrors were thrown down". She said she rushed from the house to find the villagers standing, paralyzed with fear. They were shaking uncontrollably and begging their Hindoo gods to shush the elephant. "They believed that the earth stood on the back of an elephant and an earthquake was caused by the shaking of the elephant".

And it was so intense that everyone fell to the ground, and Anna recalled, "The clocks stopped and the river set upstream for a half an hour or more, and the earth opened in huge cracks," and the yard where they all sat "rose in apparent wavelets". She and the other believers immediately pulled out their Bibles, and they began reading from Psalm 90, "Lord, You have been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God". The earth doesn't rest on an elephant's back but in the omnipotent hands of Almighty God, who tells us in his book, "Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us have grace, by which we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear".

When these things happen, they point us back to the stability of Almighty God. When we realize the eternal God is our dwelling place, and we're surrounded by his very real, his very powerful, his very comforting presence, we are encouraged, and our hearts are full of hope. Psalm 46:2, says, "Even though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea," God is still there. So we should be confident in the Lord's protection. We pray for that a lot, don't we? You say, "Well, what about this"? I can't answer all the exceptions. I can just tell you what I know, that the more I pray for the God that I love to protect me, the more I feel protected, and that's one of the things we do during times like this. We pray for the strength and protection of God to surround us with his presence, confident in God's protection, and then we can be confident in God's pardon.

Here's an interesting sidelight to this story. I wanna read to you from Joel chapter 2: "'Now, therefore,' says the Lord, 'turn to Me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning.' And rend your heart, and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness. Who knows if He will turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him", remember, this is the story of repentance. It's the story of the Philippian jailer. There was an earthquake that brought him to Christ. Remember that? In great fear, he said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved"? What was that? It was the result of the earthquake.

Something happens to us when we live through these events. God works in the lives of people in different ways, and oftentimes, through tragedies, through things we don't expect, through fires like we had here years ago, people are drawn to the Lord. When somethin' happens that we are out of control, and it comes from nowhere, and we aren't expecting it, what do we do? We automatically look to the one thing that, at least in our hearts, seems to be stable. We look to God, and we don't use God when we don't need him sometimes, and if there's nothin' goin' on like that, we put God on hold. We give him time out, but when things happen like floods and earthquakes and famines, we just automatically turn our hearts toward God. People who've gotten saved as the result of things that have taken place over which they had no control, God often uses these things to bring us to repentance and to remind us we aren't the ultimate answer. There is an answer beyond us, and that answer is God.

According to TEAM member Bethany DuVal, something happened to a Mexican woman named Gaby, who had married and had children while very young. She liked the streets and had no interest in her mother's Christian faith, and when Hurricane Odile devastated La Paz in 2014, Gaby's makeshift home was obliterated, but a local ministry reached out to her, provided food, and started helping victims rebuild their homes. Soon, Gaby found herself making tortillas alongside a girl named Emily, and when Emily invited her to a Bible study, she decided to come. As the two studied the Bible and worked in the kitchen, the Lord dealt with Gaby's heart, and Emily later said, "I really got to see how she was givin' her life to Jesus and how God was transforming her, and we've spent many, many days crying in my kitchen and just praying through things together, and she found Christ as her Savior and began growing in Christ, and today she's working and leading a high school diploma program and in the kitchen of the relief agency that reached her with the hope of Christ. Knowing God and then living in him is the best gift I have ever received," she said.

That kind of sweet, simple story has been repeated hundreds of thousands of times. I don't understand how it all works, but I don't have all the solutions. I know that natural disasters bring out supernatural discipleship, and God allows his people to serve those who are hurting and to speak to those needing Christ. In this way, he turns curses into blessings. Don't underestimate how the Lord can use you when difficulty descends on your community or on someone you know. Number three, be confident in his perspective. We place our confidence in God because he tells us how it's all gonna end. We're goin' towards somethin', you guys. We're not just sittin' here in limbo. We're on a journey, and there's a destination, and if you read Matthew 24, it says, "For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will the coming of the Son of Man be. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven with power and great glory".

And when you get to Revelation chapter 21, you read these words: "And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, 'Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. And God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away". One of the best ways you and I can communicate hope during times of disaster is to tell everybody that what we're goin' through is temporary. "This world is not our home. We're just passin' through". And the Bible tells us that we have a lot to look forward to.

Let's don't forget that. That's why I think prophecy is such an important thing to preach on, during times like these, to remind everybody that, yes, these are some difficult days. Natural disasters reflect the fallen nature of our world, but these calamities that we experience are only temporary. Each disaster reminds us that a disaster-free eternity is awaiting us, and each one inspires our hearts to long for our eternal home. You know, if we weren't so uncomfortable here, we wouldn't be so excited about looking toward heaven. God makes us uncomfortable enough so that we don't get settled down in the beauty of this world and realize, "This is it".

Friends, this ain't it. This ain't it. God has something much better for us who know him. And then, not only in God's protection and pardon and perspective, but let me finish up by telling you about God's provision. In Matthew 6, in the Lord's Prayer, we read, "Give us this day our daily bread". Do you remember the Old Testament story about the widow of Zarephath? She used her last bit of flour and oil to make bread for Elijah, but from that moment, there was always flour in her bin and oil in her jar. God just kept providing for her. It was a miracle. Most of us are tryin' to tap into that miracle, but we haven't figured it out yet.

Let me tell you about a family and about the Daniil Kiriluk, who lives in the region of the hardest-hit areas of Ukraine. Daniil is the pastor of a small church made up of his large family and about 20 others. According to "The Voice of the Martyrs," the Russian invasion reached their area but not their village. And Pastor Kiriluk and his wife have ten sons and nine daughters. Wow. They decided to make bread and to share it with those affected by the war, and in one night, they baked 30 loaves of bread. As people came to get the bread, the others brought flour and oil, and the more bread they made, the more flour and oil they had. All the children and grandchildren helped, bringing the total number of workers in the home to 33. Even the youngest son helped as he learned how much yeast, flour, and salt to mix. The youngest daughter kneaded the bread.

Soon, the church was producing 160 loaves per day, and more than one ton of flour was donated, a ton of bread, and counting. But it wasn't only bread that was distributed. Gospel newspapers went out with every loaf, and one couple in the church, with the distinct gift of evangelism, shared the message of Jesus, the Bread of Life. If you were to see the picture of this family lined up by size, and I have that picture, you'd praise God for such people whose hope overflows with kindness and evangelism in times of great danger, aided by God's provision. The Bible says God will provide, and how many of you know God does his best work through people? People like you and me.

Sometimes I think one of the best things we can do when we're feeling a little bit anxious about what's going on in the world is to stop thinkin' about ourselves and to look around and think about some of the people that we might be able to help if we just opened our eyes to their need, and this is not a time for those of us who are followers of Jesus to cling to our possessions. That's the worst thing you can do. If you take God out of your equation, you're on your own. We need to manage the resources God gives us to help other people.

Can you imagine the joy that comes to your heart when you're able to help somebody who's really in need? Now, I know, hey, everybody says, "Yeah, but you're gonna get ripped off, and people are gonna deceive you, and they're", you know, that's not my problem. My problem is to do what God wants me to do and be an instrument of help and hope in a time when there isn't a whole lot of that waitin' around, and the world is not gonna do that. The world's gonna hoard. The world's gonna grab everything and put it back, and cling to themselves, but if you're a Christian, you can't do that. If you're a Christian, you gotta say, "Lord, there's a need out there. Show me what I can do".

Maybe you can make some bread. I don't know how he uses you or how he uses me, but I know what the Bible is teaching us is that, in this time of life, going through the uneasiness and the anxiety and the angst of all the stuff that seems to be fallin' apart around us, this is the time for you and me, as believers, to stand up strong and be the people of God we were called to be in the first place. We are living in a time of great opportunity to serve him because the need is so great. Find somebody who needs your help this week, and help them, and see if God doesn't bless you in the process. Oh, what a challenge that is to my life, and I hope it is to yours.

Twelve-year-old Jacob Smith stood atop an 11,000-foot mountain in Big Sky, Montana. He was about to freeride a triple-diamond-rated slope. Now, if you don't know what that means, let me explain it: "Freeriding" is when a skier tackles a mountain without following a defined path, just a person gliding through the trees and the rocks and the ridges. That's "freeriding". Now, why anybody would wanna do that defies my imagination, but that's a sport. And this 12-year-old boy hurdling down professionally rated ski slopes without following a trail is impressive, but there's something else you need to know about this story that takes it to another level. Jacob Smith can't see. His vision is technically 20/800, which is four times the level at which a person is declared legally blind.

You say, "Pastor, you're making this up". No, I am not. On a chilly morning in Big Sky, Montana, Jacob became the first legally blind skier to complete that legendary run, and he doesn't stop breaking barriers. At 15, he's well on his way to becoming a professional in this sport that he loves. How does he do it? Well, according to Jacob, he has a secret, and I want you to listen carefully. The secret is his father, Nathan. On every run, Nathan speaks to his son over a two-way radio, and when Nathan describes the terrain, Jacob visualizes it in his mind, and when Nathan tells his son to make a turn or to move in a new direction, Jacob obeys instantly. One interviewer asked Jacob how much he trusts his dad. He said, "I mean, enough to turn right when he tells me to".

And I wanna just ask you, is that not what we're into? We're goin' down a hill. We have no idea where the path is. We're goin' through trees and stumps and rocks, but here's the good news: Our Father is in our ear, and he tells us what to do. And listen to me: If he tells you to turn right, turn right. If he tells you to give somebody somethin', give it to them. Listen to your Father because there's no way for me to tell you where this is all going. I don't know where the path is downward. I just know we're freeriding, but we're not alone because we've got the Almighty God who created the mountain in the first place, and he's tellin' us what to do, and if you believe that, if you really believe that God is in your heart and he's in your ear, you won't go to bed at night and not be able to sleep because of what's happening because you'll know tomorrow, when you get up and you start to go down the mountain again, God is with you, and he'll tell you what to do, and if you do it, the Bible says if you trust and obey, there's no other way to be happy in Jesus but to trust and obey. Hallelujah.
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