Christians in Hard Times

  by: Ronald L. Dart

We are living in troubled times, but you know, it's a mark of how far we've come that we get in a panic in the prospect of living in what we call hard times that your great grandpappy would laugh at you. He could tell you about hard times. The Great Depression was a time of 25% unemployment. A lot of people went to bed hungry in those days. Someone remarked that back then the number one thing on your mind from day-to-day was where your next meal is coming from. You had to worry about getting hold of a loaf of bread or getting hold a sack of potatoes or whatever it is you had to do to feed your children. And yet the sun came up every morning and went down every evening, the birds sang like they always did and babies were born and children grew up.

My wife and I were born in the depression years and we survived, our parents made the necessary sacrifices to ensure that we did survive and in spite of everything the government did, which some people say prolonged the depression and made it worse, the United States went on to become the wealthiest and most powerful nation in the world and the guarantor of freedom for uncounted millions of people.All that said, we have been living for the past 50 years in a fantasy world and what is coming is a lot more like normal times. It is in fact, we have been living in rare economic good times and foolish people have been spending way beyond their means. They have even been helped along the way by government programs and investors who are masters at creating counterfeit wealth and all of us together have created a bubble, which very few people recognized, and the ones who did see it, no one was listening to them.

Now we may be heading back in the normal times, where people have to live within their means. Lenders I am told are closing out lines of credit, people are finding the bank has lowered their limit on their credit cards to what they already owe, which makes it awfully hard to pay off one credit card with another one, doesn't it? That may not be altogether a bad thing. It is after all, a good thing to live within our means, that we don't spend money we don't have.

One thing, it may help us realize too is, the government is not necessarily our friend and that may become more and more evident as the months go by.

Harder times may be coming and it may be good for Christian folks, that hard times do come. Now how could that be? Well I can tell you this much, it is a self-evident truth that, Christians grow stronger in hard times and weaker in times of affluence. Now what I just said is so important I'm going to repeat it, because I want to be sure you grasp what I said. It is a self-evident truth that Christians grow stronger in hard times and weaker in times of affluence.

There is a classic example of this, of all places in the book of Revelation. Chapters 2 and 3 contain letters to the seven churches, each with its own set of problems to overcome. The last letter is especially instructive to churches and Christian people in times like the ones we are living in, or have been up until now.

It is found in the third chapter of Revelation and verse 14. The apostle John is quoting Jesus as saying, "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, "These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginner of the creation of God. {15} I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot, I wish you were one or the other, {16} Because you are lukewarm and neither cold or hot, I'm going to spit you out. {17} Because you say, "I am rich and increased with goods and have need of nothing," and you don't know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked.""

Now there is only one way to take this, here are people who really are pretty well off, physically speaking, but spiritually they are in bad shape.

So what kind of advice can be given to Christians living in times like this where people tend to be very well-off and life is easy.

He continues in verse 18, "I counsel you to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that you may be rich, white raiment that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness does not appear, that you anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you can see."

Gold tried in the fire implies going through some really hard times, so you can get over the spiritual poverty.

Jesus says in verse 19, He said, "As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten, be zealous therefore, and repent. {20} Behold, I stand at the door and knock." (You don't have to go looking for Him.) He says, "I am at door knocking, if anyone will hear my voice and open the door, I will come into him and sup with him and he with Me."


Hard Times Can Come As Chastening From Christ!

Hard times come our way as a kind of chastening from Christ. They are given to us to overcome them and to grow stronger and this is the repeated message of the book of Revelation to the seven churches. Hard times come to help us remember what is really important in life.

Jesus went on to say, {21} "To him that overcomes, I will grant to sit with me in my throne, just like I overcame and sat down with my Father in His throne. {22} He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches."

He says, "To him that overcomes." That means to the winners. What's interesting is, this is just as true in the broader society, as it is to Christians. Nations grow stronger when they face challenges and win. Nations grow weaker when things are easy.

Are People Better When Times Are Hard?

As I consider our history as a nation, we may have been better people when times were hard.

I'll draw two illustrations from biblical history for us to think about. The first is the prophet Hosea. Hosea was a prophet of the House of Israel at the very height of their prosperity. Make a note, God doesn't wait till times get really bad to send a prophet. Hosea was sent when economic times were good and moral conditions were rotten.

In Hosea chapter 4 verse six, the LORD is speaking and He says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because you have rejected knowledge, I will reject you, that you shall be no priest to me, seeing that you have forgotten the law of your God, I will forget your children."

That is a frightening prospect, because we forgot His law, He is going to forget our children!

Now you need to understand something about that. It is the actual forgetting of the Law of God that puts our children in such a disadvantage in the first place. They have no moral compass.

In verse 7 He goes on to say, "As they were increased, so they sinned against Me, therefore I will change their glory into shame."

Did you get the drift of that? The wealthier they got, the more they sinned!

"They feed on the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity. {9} They shall be like people, like priest, and I will punish them for their ways, reward them for their doings. {10} They will eat, and not have enough, they will commit whoredom and will not increase, because they have left off to take heed to the LORD."

Let's Try Poverty For A While!

For Israel the prophet said, "Hard times were coming." Prosperity just wasn't working out, so let's try poverty for a while. And while sex was everywhere, birthrates were down. Does that sound like any nation you are familiar with?

That was the crucial part of Hosea's message, so central in fact, that God sent and told him to take a wife who was herself a harlot.

What Did Isaiah Have To Say?

Isaiah, who was writing about the same time to the House of Judah in the south had something similar to say.

In the second chapter of Isaiah, it seems that Isaiah was writing about the same time that Hosea was and this whole region was really, what shall we say, filthy rich. Everything was working economically, maybe a lot like Canada and the United States have been in the past. Two nations, both of them quite wealthy, both of them doing very well, perhaps even trading a lot with each other.

But the second chapter of Isaiah sounds like Isaiah is speaking to God and he says in verse 6, "You have abandoned your people, the house of Jacob, they are full of superstitions from the East, they practice divination like the Philistines and they clasped hands (shake hands) with pagans. {7} There land is full of silver and gold. There is no end to their treasure. The land is full of horses and there is no end of their chariots." (By the way, these last two things, horses and chariots were weapons of war in that day. It basically means that they had a very strong military). {8} "Their land is full of idols. They bow down to the work of their hands, to what their fingers have made. {9} So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, don't forgive them LORD."

You know, it's clear enough in the Bible, we are going see it yet again in our own streets. I fear!

The one lesson that I take away from this is sharp enough and good enough it would make a good bumper sticker: "Good times don't make good people!"

It's just a law of human nature. We do much better as human beings when we have to work hard, when we have to struggle, when we have to keep our nose to the grind stone, and take all the clichés you want but that's the way it goes.

And you know when you read this in verse 8 and you think, what are they doing bowing down to an idol of Molech or an idol of Chemosh or one of these pagan gods, I don’t think that's what he's talking about. He is talking about the way we idolize possessions, the things that our own fingers can make, and we trade and we sell and we buy. These become the most important things in our lives.

Is Our Cell Phone A god?

Somebody coming in from another society, another world, another time, perhaps on a spaceship from another galaxy would look at us and think the Cell Phone was one of our gods, because we spend so much time talking to them.

Why Did Jesus Teach In Parables?

Then of course there was Jesus. One day He was teaching the people in parables, allegories, which would allow people to interpret them whatever way they chose. Think about that for a moment. You are standing listening to this parable and Jesus puts it to you as an allegory, which means, you can apply meaning to the symbols. You can decide what it means for yourself and it may mean something different to you than it means to someone else. Why would He do that?

We read these parables in hindsight. We have a foreknowledge of the interpretation because we have read the end of the book first. Imagine for a moment, you don't have a clue about this, you are just hearing Jesus speak. He is a charismatic speaker, and you are very interested in Him. You're just like one of the people who first heard it.

Matthew 13 verse three, "Jesus spoke many things to the crowd in parables saying "A farmer went out to sow and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside and the fowls came and devoured them up. Some fell on stony places, where they had not much earth and quickly they sprung up because there was no depth there and then when the sun came up, they were scorched and because they had no root, they withered away. Some of the seed fell among thorns and the thorns sprung up and choked them. But other seed fell into good ground and brought forth fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold. You who have ears to hear, let him hear."

Now that last phrase, "You who have ears to hear, let him hear." That should always send up a red flag to you, when you see it, in anything Jesus says, because what He is telling you is "that most people don't have ears to hear."

Jesus offered no explanation to the crowd. What are they to make of this parable? I get the impression the disciples were not comfortable with it either. They didn't know what to make of it, so I ask, "What might this parable say to us in these hard times that lie ahead of us?"

Later the disciples came to Jesus and said to Him (Matthew 13:3) , "Why do you speak to these people in parables?" He answered and said, "Because it is given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven," (so there are mysteries) "but to them it is not given {12} For whoever has, to him shall be given, he shall have more, whoever has not, from him should be taken away even what he has."

Now that is one of Jesus' hard sayings. What should we make of that?

Therefore Jesus went on, {13} "I speak to them in parables because they seeing, see not, and hearing, they hear not, they don't get it, {14} And in them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah which says "by hearing you shall hear and not understand and seeing you shall see and shall not perceive, {15} For this people's heart is waxed fat, their ears are dull of hearing, their eyes they have closed, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their heart and should be converted and I should heal them."

This is very strange saying. What accounts for this kind of response from people, this hardness of heart. Well perhaps to one degree it is the fact that there is no need in them, no perception of need. We are fine, just like the Laodiceans were rich and increased with goods, we don't need anything. It is the people who have a need who will hear.

Now what about the parable? Well Jesus went on {18} "Now hear the parable of the sower, {19} When anyone hears the word of the kingdom and doesn't get it, then comes the wicked one and catches away what was sown in his heart, this is he which received seed by the wayside."

What on earth would cause a man to be so careless, I guess, to sow his seed along the wayside? I asked the question and yet I do it every day. I sow seed with my radio program all over the country. I would say out of 1000 people who are out there listening to my program here, right now, one of you will get in touch with me. Yet I still had to sow the seed, because we have no idea where that one person will be, what his spiritual condition may be, what his needs may be, what his lack may be, but we also know is that we make a difference in the lives of a lot more people than we ever hear from, but yet, most of the time we don't know. We just do it in faith and we all know that this segment of the parable is true because we see it works, we see how it does it.

Jesus goes on to say in verse 20, "He that received the seed in the stony places, he hears it and with joy receives it," and says "This is great," {21} But he has no root in himself, but he endures for a while, but when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, he lasts only for a short time, he stumbles and is offended."

We have seen this as well. The first quick excitement about the truth, but with no depth, no effort to follow up, no roots, he doesn't have root in himself, he is just shallow and of course when hard times come and they really get hard this guy is gone.

Verse 22, "He that received the seed among the thorns is he that hears the word, and the cares of this world, and the deceitfulness of riches, choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful."

It is this one that makes me think that hard times may not be such a bad thing. I know lots and lots of Christian people who really have a hard time finding time for God. They are so busy, some are working two jobs, some of them are chasing everything under of the sun, trying to make a living, trying to get ahead, trying to do whatever. I know how hard it can be to earn a living in today's world and I also know that some people have to work those two jobs, but the end of it all is, slowly but surely, Christ gets squeezed out of their life.

Wants OR Needs?

But wait, are we really out there earning a living or are we engaging in conspicuous consumption? Do we really have to have all these things we are working for? Or do we just want them?

You know, I was walking down the mall, a year ago or so, at Christmas time, and I walked by this store and here in the window of the store, were manikins wearing jeans that already had holes in them. The price tag on those jeans were well over $70. I think some of them were going as high as $100, faded and worn with holes in them. We have kids who will go to the mall and blow a hundred bucks on a pair of jeans that already have holes in them. They don't actually shell out the greenbacks. They use the credit card and they add it on to whatever they are paying interest on. They just seem to think that they never will really have to pay for this.

What If You Had A Live Chicken?

Maybe God thinks it's time we begin to learn the value of a loaf of bread and a dozen eggs or a chicken and a sack of potatoes. If you had a live chicken and you needed to eat, your kids are hungry, would you even know how to get this live chicken from where he is pecking out worms in the yard onto your dinner table to feed your kids. Would you know how to kill it? Would you know how to get all the feathers off of it. Would you know how to cut it up and cook it. Would you know what to do?

See we are used to going down buying things that we can slam in the microwave and serve it putting it on the table.

My grandfather knew how to do it. I would hate to have to do it myself. Maybe it's time to learn that we actually can live in a one-room apartment where the bed and the only chair you sit in are in the same room? Where you have to eat in the kitchen at a tiny table with two chairs. Where we learn that a couple of concrete blocks and a 1x10 board will actually serve as a perfectly adequate bookshelf? And you really can wash yourself and get clean in a shower that has cement walls, no tile on them, and just a drain in the floor. What makes me think that way?

I've Been There!

Hey folks, I've been there! I am describing the little garage apartment that my wife and I had in our first year of marriage, but that didn't matter. We were in love and the world was ours. Little things meant so much like getting some paint and painting one wall of our one-room blue. I think it may have been so it matched the bedspread we got as a wedding present. It is like scraping together a few bucks, which we did, to buy a used Cushman motor scooter and I remember having to repair the seat on it because it was all rotted out but I did it so that we would have something we could ride to go where ever we needed to go. In those days people in our financial condition couldn't qualify for a mortgage, so we rented what we can afford to pay for.


Christians Can Get Swallowed Up

Over the years we have seen the world swallow up any number of Christians like the jungle will swallow up an old cabin that has been deserted out in the middle of it and Christians get swallowed up by the thorns and the briars all the time.

Maybe hard times are what we need right now!

But I told you all that to come to this one verse. Verse 23 of Matthew 13. "He that received seed into the good ground is he that hears the word, understands it, and which also bears fruit and brings forth some a hundredfold some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold."

Hard Times and the Gospel

Here is the great thing to think about. It is in the hard times that the gospel tends to take root in people. It is in times like this we are reminded of who we are and what we're here for. Frankly the past several years have been hard years for the gospel. They have been times when people who should have known better have lost their way.

Are we headed into the last days? Maybe, maybe not, but it really doesn't matter, because we should face it with the same focus, the same determination we would have, no matter what the future holds!

What Can We Do In The Hard Times?

Someone said that "It might take 25 years to dig ourselves out of this mess that we've gotten into!" That was not terribly encouraging. Wait, maybe God is handing us a golden opportunity here? What should we do with this time that we've got and these opportunities that has come our way?

One, invest in your children. Teach them the real values of life, family, love, accomplishment, doing something worthwhile with your life! One of the things that has really gotten screwed up in our society is that love has been replaced by mere SEX and the result has been a complete emotional and societal disaster. Now we have a chance when we have no money to go and do something else. We have to be at home together then we can lay out a jigsaw puzzle on a table like my dad used to do and we can go together as a family and we can spend that time doing something together. There would be time to hug your kids, time to love your wife and your husband and there are so many things that we can do that are worth far more than the stuff we are doing now.


The funny thing is that the buzzword in this year's political campaign was "Change!" I got the feeling that God looked down on us and said, "Oh, you want change, I will give you change." We have just had a dramatic illustration of what change is like and we may be better for it, even though, all we have left is the change in our pocket, when all is said and done. And it may well be your kids will give the answer to the big question, change what? My word folks, we are talking change and change can go on so many different directions. The change we have to deal with right now, well maybe what we need to be thinking about is how are we going to change our lives?


Meanwhile, I have this melancholy feeling that keeps dogging my steps. It comes out of Romans chapter 9 verse 27 where the apostle Paul wrote and sites Isaiah, he says "Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, though the number of the Israelites be like the sand by the sea, only a remnant will be saved, for the Lord will carry out his sentence on earth with speed and finality."

Boy, there are 200 million, perhaps 300 million of us and maybe a remnant of us, after all is said and done, will finally find our way out of the hole. You have a chance to see to it that your children do.

If you would like to find out more about what you can do with your children, drop us a note, give us the ages of your children and we will send you a sample lesson that you can use to teach your Bible, the faith of Jesus Christ and teach them how to live in hard times, just get in touch with us and we will work with you. (Mail your request to Christian Educational Ministries, P.O. Box 560, Whitehouse, TX 75791).

As for those who understand, there are the words of Jesus to live by. John nine verse four, "As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him, the Father, who sent me. Night is coming when no one can work."

Until next time, I'm Ronald Dart and you were Born to Win.

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This article was transcribed with

minor editing from a Born to Win Radio Program given by Ronald L. Dart titled: Christians in Winter



Ronald L. Dart was an evangelist and is heard daily and weekly on his Born to Win radio program. 
The program can be heard on over one hundred radio stations across the nation.

In the Portsmouth, Ohio area you can listen to the Born to Win radio program on 
Sundays at 7:30 a.m. and at 12:30 p.m. on WNXT 1260.

You can contact Christian Educational Ministries at
P.O. Box 560 Whitehouse, Texas 75791 
Phone: (903) 509-2999 - 1-888-BIBLE-44


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