Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Are you worried about Jesus' return?

Good morning my friends. I try as much as possible to follow Paul's instruction to stay away from disputable matters because it is so easy to bring about division. I like to hold on to Paul's teaching in 1 Corinthians 12 when he concentrates on the things that unite us in the Body of Christ. As I said yesterday, this is the reason I will not teach on the End Times. Perhaps it is my own lack of maturity in the Word or because I lack revelation of understanding but there is too much vagueness to take a dogmatic position on any of it, except for one thing; Jesus is returning.

Jesus himself told us the date and time of his return remains a mystery but he gave some clues for us to watch for. Many of us see those clues in increasing numbers in the events and politics of our days. Our hope is that Jesus is returning for us soon. You will come across many people who will give you a definite date as to the end of the world. The latest in a long line of false prophecies is the foundation for the movie "2012". It seems we are a race of people fixated on the idea of our own destruction. Paul warned the Thessalonians:

Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:1-3)

The Holy Spirit is verifying through Paul exactly what Jesus had taught concerning his return. If we knew exactly when a thief was going to break in we would have the police there to catch him. One of the successes of a thief is catching people unprepared. It is in this same manner, a lack of of announcement, that Jesus will return. This actually scares some Christians, as if they feel they need a warning. Why would we need an announcement or a warning if we are being faithful servants?

But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. vs 4-8

We should not be surprised when Jesus returns because we belong to the day. Our close walk with Jesus every day ensures our self-control when it comes to the sinful desires of our flesh. We take the time every day to check our garments of faith and love to ensure they are properly in place. And of course we do not begin our day without the assurance of our salvation which is our constant hope. We would be foolish to try to serve our Lord in this fallen world without all our safety gear on because without it we could fall into the trap of sin, and sin, once rooted, would cause us to belong to the dark once again.

You see, as sons of the Light we do not fear God's wrath because we have experienced his love. Because of this love we only desire to be obedient. Paul reminds us:

For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. vs 9-11

And again we are reminded, due to this wonderful news, encourage one another. I like what is added; and build each other up. I don't know if it would help for you to have a mental picture of what we are involved in but imagine being involved in trench warfare. Most of us have seen enough movies and documentaries to know what that is. How do you think men managed to keep going in such appalling conditions? They encouraged each other. They bragged about each other. The lifted each other up. They sang together. They prayed together. They laughed together. They knew that the only way they would make it is with the help of the buddy beside them. We are involved in the most significant trench warfare in the history of mankind, and don't you forget it.

Jesus is coming for us but until he does we are told to fight on for the sake of those who need rescuing. Hold on to the reality of our hope of Jesus' return and stay busy with your duties, and remember to encourage each other. We need to take the time each day to encourage and build up those who are fighting beside us in our trench. Do not give up, and don't you dare allow they buddy beside you to give up. We need each other.

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