Sunday, December 2, 2007
THE KING IS COMING
For as the lightning comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.
'Men of Galilee,' they said, 'why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.'
Be patient, then, brothers, until the Lord's coming. See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains. You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord's coming is near.
The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be?. You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming... But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness. So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.
Dear friends, now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when he appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure.
And now, dear children, continue in him, so that when he appears we may be confident and unashamed before him at his coming.
(Matthew 24:27; Acts 1:11; James 5:7-8; 2 Peter 3:9-12a and 13-14;
John 3:2-3; 1 John 2:28 -- NIV.)
The world may end tonight or earth could be attacked by aliens. Whatever happens, only one man can save us. Buck Rogers in the 25th Century. 7.30 tonight.
Dr Margaret Mead, the late anthropologist, has asked the question: 'Are we going to survive?,' She said, 'The major struggle of marriage is not who takes out the garbage. Does it matter who takes it out if we are not going to be here?,' She asks again, 'Are we going to be here?, It is very doubtful. The whole world is in terrible danger. We could go tonight.'
Ray Stedman, from a printed sermon entitled 'Are These the Last Days?.'
Why is God landing in this enemy-occupied world in disguise and starting a sort of secret society to undermine the devil?, Why is he not landing in force, invading it?. Is it that he is not strong enough?, Well, Christians think he is going to land in force; we do not know when. But we can guess why he is delaying. He wants to give us the chance of joining his side freely. I do not suppose you and I would have thought much of a Frenchman who waited till the Allies were marching into Germany and then announced he was on our side. God will invade. But I wonder whether people who ask God to interfere openly and directly in our world quite realise what it will be like when he does. When that happens, it is the end of the world. When the author walks onto the stage, the play is over. God is going to invade, all right: but what is the good of saying you are on his side then, when you see the whole natural universe melting away like a dream and something else something it never entered your head to conceive -- comes crashing in; something so beautiful to some of us and so terrible to others that none of us will have any choice left?, For this time it will be God without disguise; something ,so overwhelming that it will strike either irresistible love or irresistible horror into every creature. It will be too late then to choose your side. There is no use saying you choose to lie down when it has become impossible to stand up. That will not be the time for choosing: it will be the time when we discover which side we really have chosen, whether we realised it before or not. Now, today, this moment, is our chance to choose the right side. God is holding back to give us that chance. It will not last for ever. We must take it or leave it.
C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Strange to say there are four very evident attitudes manifested in the professing church towards this blessed hope: aggressive hostility, listless apathy, fearful apprehension and loving expectancy. Some hate it; some are totally ignorant of it; some are afraid of it; and some love it.
Ruth Paxson, Life on the Highest Plane
The centring of the Christian hope on the personal return of the Lord Jesus Christ needs to be underlined. It is possible to become so involved in the intricacies of prophetic fulfilment or with a study of the accompanying events that we can miss the central event... the Christian hope for the future is not a timetable of events. It is not concerned finally with a series of impersonal happenings. Its heart is nothing other than the expectation of the personal appearing of the Lord. If we find our interest in the last things is centred elsewhere than in the Lord himself, then we are already out of step with scripture.
Bruce Milne, The End of the World
An ocean liner leaves New York bound for Liverpool. Its destination has been determined by proper authorities. Nothing can change it. This is at least a faint picture of sovereignty. On board the liner are several scores of passengers. They are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move about as they will. They eat, sleep, play, lounge about on the deck, read, talk altogether as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onward toward a predetermined port... The mighty liner of God's sovereign design keeps its steady course over the sea of history. God moves undisturbed and unhindered toward the fulfilment of those eternal purposes which he purposed in Jesus Christ before the world began.
A.W. Tozer, The Knowledge of the Holy
An eleven-year-old boy, engrossed in an adventure book, protested when told to go to bed. He pleaded to no avail that he must find out whether the hero would escape from an impossible situation and would rescue the heroine from the clutches of the villain. Later, with the aid of a flashlight beneath the bedcovers, he read the final chapter of the book. Sure enough, the hero rescued the heroine, and the villain was captured and put in jail. However, because he could not imagine how such a turnabout had happened, he began reading again at the place he had been forced to stop. Each time the villain did something wrong the boy said, 'If you knew what I know, you wouldn't be acting like you are.'
Avery Willis Jr., Biblical Basis of Missions
When the drama of history is over, Jesus Christ will stand alone on the stage. All the great figures of history, Pharaoh, Alexander the Great, Charlemagne, Churchill, Stalin, Johnson, Mao Tse Tung -- will realise that they have been but actors in a drama produced by another.
Helmut Thielecke, The Waiting Father
J. Hudson Taylor, founder of the China Inland Mission wrote: 'Well do I remember the effect when God was pleased to open my heart to the great truth that the Lord Jesus was coming again, and might come at any time. Since he might come any day, it is well to be ready every day. I do not know of any truth that has been a greater blessing to me through life than this.'
J. Oswald Sanders, The Incomparable Christ
D.G. Barnhouse was once asked what he would do if he knew Christ was returning tomorrow. He replied that he would do what he had planned. He knew he was doing God's will and that's all that mattered.
Finish then thy new creation:
Pure and spotless let us be;
Let us see thy great salvation,
Perfectly restored in thee,
Changed from glory into glory,
Till in heaven we take our place,
Till we cast our crowns before thee,
Lost in wonder, love and praise.
Lift up your heads
to the coming king.
Bow before him and adore him, sing.
To his majesty
let your praises be
pure and holy, giving glory
to the king of kings.
Steven L. Fry
At the name of Jesus every knee shall bow
Every tongue confess him king of glory now;
'Tis the Father's pleasure we should call him Lord,
Who from the beginning was the mighty word.
Caroline M. Noel (Philippians 2:10-11)
Thank you, Lord, for the days in which we live. What exciting, what frightening days they are. Thank you for the assurance that you are still in charge, that we do not determine our own destiny nor set our own schedule.
Thank you that you are working out the events of earth according to your own programme and nothing can stay your hand.
Thank you for letting me live in these days.
Help me to keep sane and sober,
alert and watchful,
expectant and hopeful,
labouring while it is still day
in the fullness and power of the Spirit
to accomplish your purposes for a time
such as this.
Lord, the first time you came so quietly;
The next time there will be shouting and the trumpet of God.
The first time you came in poverty and humiliation;
The next time you will come in glory.
The first time you came in weakness;
The next time you will come in power.
The first time you came to loneliness;
The next time you will be accompanied by the heavenly hosts.
I get a little nervous when I really think about it.
After all, you're the king and I'm not exactly court material.
And I'm going to be like you, for I shall see you as you are.
Therefore Lord, will you accept the adoration of my heart
and the devotion of my life in order that I might always live
for that which is eternal and be found faithful.
Until you come again
In your name, Amen.
And now may the dying Saviour's love
the risen Saviour's power
the ascended Saviour's blessing
and the returning Saviour's glory
Be the joy and comfort of your hearts
Now and forever. Amen.
Still Waters, Deep Waters ed. By Rowland Croucher pp. 204-209